Plants are like people. When you nurture them, they grow. This is also true on a systemic (or ecosystemic) level. When we do not respect our natural environment, we deplete the resources necessary for our survival. Too many people disregard the symbiotic nature of our relationship with the world around us. Life forms depend upon one another, and as an intelligent species, we are responsible for the effects our lifestyles have on the planet.
This fragile interdependency is what attracted me to the field of sustainable food production. I am currently enrolled in a horticulture program at my community college where I am learning a lot about landscape maintenance and growing organic crops. Students are responsible for tending to the small garden on site. But as I sprinkled coffee grounds under our blueberry bushes, I started to think about the limitation of studying plant species in only one ecosystem.
Eventually, I would like to transfer into a sustainable agriculture program at a four-year university. But in the meantime, how could I truly explore the environmental and economic impacts of farming on a global system that I had experienced such a small fraction of. Coffee, for example, is a large-scale crop that has little to no presence in the United States. I wanted to work in a different climate, both culturally and agriculturally, to see another piece of the puzzle.