Our New Hanover County Cooperative Extension Center often has the pleasure of working with student interns. Lucas Seijo is a nineteen-year-old Agriculture Sciences student from North Carolina State University that has served our community well during his eleven-week tenure here this summer.
His initial assignment was to help run a new program called Vacation Veggies, an NCSU “Fork to Farmer” initiative where local farmers’ fresh produce is supplied to vacationers in Wrightsville Beach with a subscription. A plan was put in place as he developed a working relationship with farmers from the Wilmington Farmers Market at Tidal Creek, including Kyle Stenersen of Humble Roots Farm, Morgan Milne of Red Beard Farms, and Stefan Hartmann of Black River Organic Farm. https://www.forktofarmer.com/wb-vacationveggies
This intern’s relationship with the Wilmington Farmers Market at Tidal Creek grew to be one of Lucas’ favorite parts of the summer. Through the market manager Jane Horst, Lucas spent Saturday mornings at the market working with volunteer Charlie Baker and others to promote and manage the “Fresh Bucks” program where SNAP/EBT benefits were doubled for the purchase of fresh produce. In Lucas’ words, “I loved working the market and helping to run this program there… the daily conversations I had with customers really made me feel a part of the Wilmington Community. It was wonderful to just be at the market every Saturday, and what made it even better is that we continuously saw more and more people come each week to benefit from the program we were offering, and also to support the fantastic farmers that sell there.” https://thewilmingtonfarmersmarket.com/
Lucas was also able to assist the Alliance for Cape Fear Trees, an organization that works to protect and preserve the tree canopy in the region, an initiative supported by my educational programming. He was able to help with the preparation of a grant application to fund tree plantings in downtown Wilmington street medians. Writing, surveying the areas and taking photographs were a valued contribution to the successful grant application. He also assisted the Alliance by updating and reformatting their datasheet for the “Trees Forever” program, allowing donors to fund tree planting in desired public areas in the city. https://www.allianceforcapefeartrees.com/trees-forever-program
New Hanover County Farm Bureau is a sponsor for a farm tour scheduled for November 15, 2019. Proposed by Cooperative Extension, Lucas did the preliminary planning of the five-stop day-long event by researching local farms and proposing a route to educate folks on the fantastic agricultural endeavors that are our neighbors. Lucas knows that value of our local food systems, and wants to share the knowledge. More on the Farm Tour in a few weeks; you won’t want to miss it!
One of the stops for the tour is the Horticultural Crops Research Station in Castle Hayne. The research station conducts research on blueberries, muscadine grapes, and other local favorites, evaluating different conditions and treatments for the effect on growth and behaviors. In preparation for the tour, Lucas arranged for an Extension office team building trip to the research station in July. The team literally enjoyed the fruits of the research post-experiment blueberry bushes. https://www.ncagr.gov/research/hcrs.htm
A final project for Lucas this summer involved assessing potential sites throughout the county for potential “Food Forest” installations. Digital photos, a narrative regarding suitability, satellite views, and soil samples are combined in an executive summary to facilitate great decision-making and action. This proposed project is a joint effort with NC Cooperative Extension and New Hanover County Parks & Gardens.
I asked Lucas to summarize his impression of assignments from the summer. He spoke of “having broadened his view of what Cooperative Extension is and does. It is more than just helping farmers in the field. It is community building, where every agent and employee here plays a significant role in outreach, working to build up their area.” Our areas include food systems, community development, urban horticulture, family and consumer sciences, food and nutrition education, 4-H and youth development, and more. And apparently, exposing student interns to a variety of experiences. I am so grateful to have worked with Lucas Seijo this summer. Even at age 19, he already speaks of plans for law school and a career dealing with agricultural policy. Keep your eyes on this guy; he’s one sharp young man.
Author: Lloyd Singleton - director of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Center for New Hanover County