Avry Grows - Alum

April 08, 2021

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Avry was an apprentice at the Center of Agroecology in 2017, a second year apprentice in 2018, and a Farm Garden tech in 2019. Avry's interest in the food system was sparked while volunteering at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Farmer's Market. While simultaneously managing a restaurant in New York, their curiosity in the food system grew into a desire to work on a farm. 

In 2012 Avry pursued a farming internship on an 8-acre farm in Arizona. It changed their life, connected them with food seasonality, shifted their connection to physical work and created a deeper passion for growing food with holistic, organic techniques. For years they continued to volunteer on farms and gardens as they migrated north to the Pacific Northwest. They learned about the Center of Agroecology after completing their herbal studies at The Elderberry School of Plant Medicine, where they had dreamed of growing their own organic herbal medicines and starts.

As an Apprentice Fellow (aka second-year apprentice), Avry had the opportunity to ingrain the program’s information and concepts while mentoring first year apprentices. They found their teaching voice and developed their irrigation skillset in the two seasons of supporting apprentices in one on one learning. Avry’s favorite moment at the Center of Agroecology was organizing and engaging with the Queer Farmers Collective and its Queer Farmer Field Day. “Growing, preserving and sharing food with others feels so precious when you’ve put so much work into cultivating a crop.” 

Some of the most useful lessons Avry learned at the Center of Agroecology were irrigation techniques. It drew them to their current position at Perennial Permaculture Nursery in Santa Cruz County's San Lorenzo Valley. Their goal is to cultivate resilient plants with loving intention. The nursery began as a food forest, but in spring 2021 launched as a nursery seeing the growing demand for perennial vegetables, cane berries, and herbs. 

Avry has this advice to offer those wanting to study agroecology and/or pursue a career in agriculture: "Go out and get involved in any small ways you can. Attend the farmer’s market to get to know local farms and volunteer opportunities to learn skills. Then begin with whatever you have, whether it be a pot of soil on your porch or a small garden bed. Also have a lot of gratitude, from the people who grow the food, for the earth, for ourselves.”

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