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Internships cultivate community efforts to avoid hunger

Nov. 14, 2006

By MALLORY BRIGGS
Reporter

The rooster crows and up they go. Interns at the World Hunger Farm recreate an American pasttime by getting up to milk the cows at 6 a.m.

"Agriculture is hard work, especially when you do it the old-fashioned way," said Dale Barron, development director of the World Hunger Farm.

Interns at the World Hunger Farm live, work and learn on a 42-acre farm.

They each work 40 hours a week, doing chores and running an enterprise on the farm.

They attend four hours of class a week and cover topics such as composting, animal husbandry and world missions. They also have a daily devotion time.

Interns are a core part of the farm and do about 80 percent of the work, Barron said.

Two interns are accepted every four months and each intern stays for a year.

They are given room and board, a stipend and health insurance.

Zac Entz, a graduate of Canadian Mennonite University with a degree in international development, is a new intern to the program.

Entz said the internship is hard work, but he enjoys community living as well as learning how to incorporate agricultural issues in the international context.

Entz takes care of the 500 pecan trees. He said he works about 10 hours a day taking care of shaking the trees, sorting and marking the pecans.

He also does his regular chores and helps in the garden.

"Zac grew up as a minority in Africa. He's been taking malaria pills his whole life.

"He's a real good type of truth meter (for agricultural practices) to say yes, I've done this all my life; that works, " Barron said.

Entz said he and his wife would like to go back and settle in Africa and do agricultural work there.

Matt Heff, the education director at the World Hunger Farm who oversees the intern program, said he started volunteering at the farm while he was teaching gardening at McLennan County Challenge Academy. He slowly became more involved.

"It's really been perfect for me. I have a bunch of quirky skills," Heff said.

Heff works to educate the interns, the community and local representatives. He said he works with the interns to "try and give them the bigger concepts philosophically how they can solve problems."

The farm is a unique environment and learning experience. Heff said there are "only a handful of people in the country that are preparing people with these kinds of hunger issues."

The World Hunger Farm is a Christian nonprofit farm.

It has three mission fronts: to educate interns, educate the community and work on local and international sustainable food problems.

Right now the farm has around 300 people in 25 different countries working on these issues.

The farm is an "active way to show people what the gospel is about," Barron said.

The interns are a major part of the farm's mission.

After their year at the farm, they're sent out to work with organizations around the world.

The farm gives them "a tangible, immediately usable set of skills that can be modified to fit a lot of different things," Barron said.

Through their intense training and hard work, interns like Entz are challenged to plant a new seed in how the world approaches food.