This summer I was the locally sourced food intern for MH&T. At the beginning, it was open ended what exactly within locally sourced food I was going to look at for them. After getting to know the organization better, what I realized was that although MH&T tries to source as much of their food locally as possible, there wasn’t a concrete definition of what exactly local was to them or why locally sourced food mattered. If MH&T is putting in so much time, money, and effort into sourcing their food locally, I felt it would be important for them to have a set food philosophy to go off of moving forward and an articulated reason for why it all mattered. I also thought it was important for those things to be communicated with guests. If guests could learn about the importance of local food, it would be an educational experience for them. This could help make a broader impact, for if guests understand why locally sourced food matters, they might put more effort into trying to source their food at home locally. It also hopefully will enable people to view MH&T as a leader in recognizing food as an important factor in sustainable ecotourism. This food philosophy will be put on MH&T’s website. It will include an updated summer 2018 list of their local food producers as well as a video to promote some of those individuals. I also developed a more in depth explanation of the environmental impacts of locally sourced food and agriculture as a whole which is linked to the page articulating the food philosophy.
In order to effectively do this, I spent much of my summer trying to grasp why locally sourced food matters for environmental, community, and economic reasons. This is because those three qualities are critical parts of MH&T’s mission statement. A major portion of my time was spent looking at online sources and books. When I wasn’t just doing that, I often tried to talk to different people. I would talk to people who knew a lot more than I did about the topic, such as individuals from Chewonki and Maine Farmland Trust. I also spent time talking to MH&T’s local food vendors so that I could understand how the practices they are using benefit the environment, and put a face behind the community members that are benefitting from MH&T’s choices. I also spent a lot of time getting to know the people at MH&T and how the organization works. I attended much of the hut staff orientation and went on a food delivery to Grand Falls hut. Doing this enabled me to have the proper background information to understand what challenges might be to sourcing food locally. I also frequently visited the MH&T office for check-ins. In addition to the work I did to develop the food philosophy, I also helped plan and co-lead an activity on the global food market to a group of middle schoolers from the Boys and Girls Club that were visiting Flagstaff hut.
It was an absolute privilege to get to know the people that work for MH&T. The hut staff and year long team are filled with truly kind, interesting, hardworking and passionate people. Everyone was always ready to help when I needed it. Merrie and Carolann, our go-to people at the huts, were eager to ensure that our work at the huts were not only helpful to them but also exciting to us and that we pursued research projects that we were interested in. It was also an extremely valuable opportunity for me to spend time working in a small but mighty non-profit. Doing so has made me realize how much I enjoy that type of work environment and I hope to find that sense of community and dedication in whatever jobs I may eventually choose after Colby. I am so excited to return to MH&T throughout my time at Colby and hopefully continue my relationship with the organization. I am so lucky to have been able to work for them this summer, they are really such a special organization!
Bronya Lechtman ’20
Check out the video of Bronya’s experience here.