Interning In A Greenhouse Taught Me More Than Just About Plants

Interning In A Greenhouse Taught Me More Than Just About Plants

Who knew plants are pickier and need more attention than me?

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This semester, I have the opportunity to intern in a greenhouse. Plants like the cold weather even less than we do, meaning that I have only just begun these past two weeks helping with my school's sustainable farming operation. But in the brief time that I have been there, I have learned about not only the tedious process of persuading seeds to shoot their shot and germinate but also about my own use of time.

When I walk into the greenhouse after my classes, I am grateful for the warm, humid air that feels like a hug after the cold winds of Ohio. It's located on the corner of campus and looks small and nondescript on the outside. Inside, it is sectioned into several rooms, some organized with neat rows of crops to test a variety of specific conditions, and others surrendered to a microcosm of a rain forest with tropical plants and vines.

I have been working with other interns and employees of Miami's Institute for the Environment and Sustainability to grow vegetables that we will eventually distribute to members of the community through a CSA, a community supported agriculture program. This means that people in the community can subscribe to receive weekly boxes of these vegetables while they are in season. It allows people to get affordable, local produce and support small farms. Similar operations are offered in communities across the country.

I love vegetables probably more than the next person, eating more than my share at the dining hall. But my affinity for plants never translated to an ability to grow them. I had tried growing herbs only to be at a loss once they outgrew their pots. I have grown tomatoes but underestimated their eagerness and was overwhelmed with what quickly became a thick, dense forest of too many tomato plants and rotting fruit.

In my brief time participating in the greenhouse, I have been surprised by the variety of tasks necessary to grow the vegetables and the detail they require. Plants have had a lot of time to evolve and figure out how to grow yet are still picky about when they will give it a try. But once a seed germinates, that's its chance, and if its life doesn't work out, then it's all over. It makes sense that it is a little scared of commitment. For this reason, we sift the soil, have a recipe for the soil at each stage of the plant's life, water them gently, and even keep them tucked under light blankets so they can hold on to water easier.

I see everything I have learned in textbooks be applied and have realized that reading about the lift of the plant does not really prepare you to be a good plant parent. The directors of the greenhouse that have been doing this for years and are such a well of plant-knowledge that I am convinced they can talk to them.

I am grateful for and excited about my afternoons in the greenhouse, doing small repetitive tasks that require focus yet allow my mind to wander. Time can fly as we listen to '90s hip-hop, or it can slowly pass by, giving me a much-needed break from writing notes and looking at a screen. Getting dirt under my nails and breathing in the smell of soil is a form of stress relief that I had not expected, but I can't help but look forward to.

The meticulous care of plants is something beautiful and critical; ultimately all energy we consume comes from plants. Even if you eat animals, they ate plants. Life depends on our understanding of sunlight, water and the earth. And I am lucky to get to spend more time watching it all work.

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5 Ways Impulsively Getting A Dog Saved My Mental Health

Those four paws are good for a lot more than just face kisses.

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Shortly before my husband and I officially moved out onto our own, he surprised me with a puppy in hand on the morning of our anniversary. Moving out, tackling college, and everything in between, I thought another huge responsibility was the last thing I needed. However, in reality, Oakley, the lab/Australian shepard/collie mix, was exactly what I needed to get back to "me."


He provides emotional support

One of the most obvious reasons is how much emotional support dogs, (and other respective animals) can provide. His paws have been accidentally stepped on, and he certainly isn't a fan of the forced flea/tick medication doses, but less than 30 seconds later, he is without fail immediately by my side again, tail wagging and ready for more kisses. Although he is not trained or certified as an ESA, it's without a doubt he has effectively (and unconsciously) combated random anxiety attacks or feelings of being alone.

He requires being cared for

You'll heavily judge every crazy fur mama, as did, I until you become one. Getting Oakley immediately got me consistently back on my feet and forced me to ask myself, "What does he need today?"Even simple, easy tasks like taking him out to run/go to the bathroom had me excited and forced me to find a motive in the day to day activities. I loved no longer having even the mere choice to be unproductive. Don't want to start your day? Well, Oakley needs his day started, so let's get moving.

He serves as protection

It's no surprise how far a dog's loyalty will go to protect their owner. For decades, specially trained dogs have had life-saving responsibilities assigned to them. Even being married, my husband and I's schedules vary significantly to where it is not uncommon for me to be alone. The slightest sound or shadow from outside our door immediately initiates barking. In the bathroom taking a shower? He's there. Knowing that Oakley is looking out, even when I get carried away with tasks like cooking dinner, always calms my nerves.

He's become something to look forward to

The nice thing about having Oakley is regardless of how my day goes, I know exactly how it is going to end. Whether I passed an exam with flying colors or got the lowest grade in the class, I know what waits for me when I open the door at home. After a long day, nothing resets my mood like walking into a face that is just as happy and excited to see me!

He encourages bonds with others

If you want your social interaction to sky rocket: get a puppy. No, I'm serious. You'll have people wanting to come over and visit "you" (let's be real… your puppy), like it's your last day on Earth. For me, this was exactly what I needed. Getting Oakley had family members constantly checking in to see how he was growing, learning, etc. Not only did this encourage more interactions with family and friends, but it also "livened" my husband and I's home life. Instead of the "normal" weekend nights consisting of Netflix and MarioKart, (which are enjoyable in their own respective ways), spending our nights playing Monkey in the Middle with our new four-legged friend has proven much more entertaining.

So ideally was it the right time to get a dog? Probably not. However, adding Oakley to my small little family combated anxiety and depression in ways I wouldn't have ever thought possible.

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I Bought a Menstrual Cup and I'm Never Going Back

I am now in a committed relationship with my DivaCup

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If you get a period you probably know all the money that gets poured into buying products for it. Tampons and pads are ridiculously expensive, and the dreaded Pink Tax doesn't help the matter. Tampons and pads are also not great for the environment, which is something to keep in mind because right now our planet is in the worst state it's ever been in, and only getting worse.

I first heard about menstrual cups a year or two ago, and at first I was confused. How do you put a whole cup inside you? Does it even work? I decided to research, and I found that there are so many benefits to using a reusable menstrual cup. Firstly, you only have to buy one every several years because most of them are silicone, and they clean easily and don't need to be replaced for years. This means that you just have to wash them and store them in a safe place in between each period, which reduces waste significantly. Second, they are better for your body because they don't have the chemicals that many big brand tampons have. I had no idea that there were so many not-so-nice things in the tampons that I would use every month. All this research made me wonder, is it worth the purchase? DivaCup, one of the most popular brands of menstrual cup runs for about $40-$45. What if I spend all this money and it doesn't work for me? But do I want to keep spending money on tampons and creating so much waste?

So I bought one. I went to CVS and bought a DivaCup. It was a blow to my bank account, of course, but I was determined to make it work for me. Along with the cup, I bought baby wash to wash it. DivaCup sells a wash made specifically for washing the cup, but the store didn't have any, and after lots of research I found out that baby wash is just as gentle. I was so excited to go home and use it for my next period.

The first time was …. an experience. It takes some practice to get used to inserting and removing the cup, and the first time I did it I was worried that I would get the cup stuck inside me (I didn't, I was just overreacting). I got the hang of it pretty quickly, and that first period that I had with the cup was amazing. I had almost no leaking, which I used to get all the time with tampons, and I didn't have to deal with annoying pads when I was sleeping because the cup can be worn through the night. Also, the cup can be worn for a full 12 hours compared to tampons which are only supposed to be worn for 8 hours maximum.

I bought my cup about a year ago and I haven't spent a dime on tampons or pads since then. The DivaCup has saved me so much money and hassle over the past year and I feel good about what I'm putting in my body because I know it's gentle and safe, and I know I'm reducing waste. Yes, sometimes it's a hassle to empty it in a public bathroom, everything has drawbacks, but I would do that a million times before I purchased tampons again.

If you are someone who is interested in trying some alternative form of menstrual product, such as the cup or Thinx period panties, then I would strongly encourage you to do so. I love my cup, and I love the benefits that come with it. It was so worth the money (it actually saves me money in the long run), and so much better for your body and the environment.

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