Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Interview with Doug Knight


Doug Knight is the Farm Director for Camp Mitchell's Agricultural Project.  When asked what his job entails exactly, he said, "A lot. I wear a lot of hats, I'm in charge of a lot of projects."

His jobs include, but are not limited to, watching the farm's money and making budgets, making sure all of the inventory and money is used, and organizing the maintenance people, the kitchen, the camp staff, the board of directors, and the camp directors to help people participate in farm activities.

There is, of course, the actual growing of food, which is "a huge part of the job."  He enjoys the physical work and planning that goes into the growing of food, but he does not necessarily enjoy the administrative part.  He said that if the farm grows much more, he won't be able to do much more farming and will have to hire more people to work on the farm.

The directors are indeed considering growing the farm (at Doug's requests).  It wasn't always so large, however.  For three years before he and his wife Jenny came to work for amp Mitchell, there were only a few beds around where the chicken coop and outdoor learning center are now, and the Sustainability Intern (Maggie Israel's current job) did all of the physical work for 3 months of the summer.

Faith "for sure" affects Doug's work.  He does not explititly bring it up with campers, or others in the garden, because of lack of time.  He says that he wishes he did have the opportunity to do so, however.  As it is, he believes the lessons about God you can learn while farming and the parallels to parts of the Bible are still there.

God is the source of life, so nurturing life is a good way to get close to Him.  Doug believes that if you pay enough attention to anything, it can be a "path to holiness," as he puts it.  Plus, helping to protect God's earth is also a spiritual activity.

Doug's favorite part of the job is, according to him, "Hard to say."  He really likes the basic work it takes to grow the food.  He also really enjoys having anyone who's excited about it in the garden to ask questions.

He has not liked being torn between the physical work and the administrative work (e.g. grant applications, emails, bookkeeping).  However, it has allowed him to become better at prioritizing items in his schedule.

He discovered his love of farming in Japan 3 years ago, where he and his wife participated in a Young Adult Service Corps trip as a gap year activity.  The school was an internationally-focused college that trained people from developing countries about sustainable agriculture, and how to teach people in their home countries to use sustainable agriculture instead of industrialized agriculture.

There, Doug and Jenny kept up the garden that the school used for teaching activities.  They also picked up a few tips about how to farm as well, and started to think that farming might be the field they wanted to go into.

In 5 years, he sees the farm as a place where he can have full time interns or students to learn much the same things as the students in the Japanese school they worked for, and also the lessons in administration that he has had to learn as Farm Director.  That is to say, things like cooking, budgeting, and local farm community organizing.

They would also discuss leadership  and environment-related questions like "What does it mean to be human?", or "how should we live in a globalized society?"  This program would consist of maybe four people, ad would coexist with the summer camp.

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