LIVE, LEARN, GROW
A Summer on Vashon
Want to be part of an operating small business and farm? Spend a summer interning with us on Vashon! Our internship offers a challenging, interesting, and fun experience in a unique place. Each summer 2 or 3 interns live and work on the farm.
Explore Vashon and the Pacific Northwest on your days off. Interested in paddleboarding, hiking, or kayaking? Need a dose of urban life? It is easy to find various recreational challenges on and off the island.
Please send a resume and cover letter, stating why you would like to intern. Ideal applicants are college students, recent graduates or young adults 18 - 25. Experience with gardening, farming, sales and merchandising helpful but not necessary. Strong work ethic, sense of humor, creativity and good communication skills desired.
Room + Board
Our Intern Honor Roll
April Cumming 2009
Julia Dodd 2010
Blair Eckenrode, Meg Christensen 2010
Alexis Hilliard 2011
Paris Haber, Shannon Toomey 2012
Audrey Hutchinson 2013
Delilah Davis, Rosalie MacNeal 2014
Hudson Gardner, Alex Zody 2015
Lindsay Chmura, Hannah Helfner and Abbey VandenBerg 2016
Molly Beck and Emily Fritze 2017
Emma Arcos, Claire Furtwangler and Lexi VanDeWalker 2018
It all started when I read an article in the New York Times travel section about college students spending their summers working as interns. Nothing out of the ordinary there, I remember thinking, but as I continued to read, I realized that these weren’t just your average internships. These college students weren’t working in cubicles; they were working outside, on farms, and were getting paid nothing except the satisfaction they received from a day’s hard work in what I would soon refer to as “the fields.” After reading that article, it was as though a seed had been planted inside me and all I wanted to do was water it and experience its growth, and that’s exactly what I did.
What could be a better way to spend my summer than to intern at a farm? I remember thinking. I have always loved to garden, travel, and try new things, so when I was offered an internship at Lavender Hill Farm on Vashon Island, WA, I accepted, and within a week I was on my first solo trip to a part of the world I’d never been, to meet people I’d never met, and to experience ways of life I hadn’t ever experienced.
Throughout my stay at Lavender Hill Farm, I was able to observe and learn what it takes to operate a small farm. I now know that it’s best to harvest the lavender in the early mornings and evenings, it’s best to wear gloves when using a scythe to cut lavender, and that it’s best to be friendly and engaging with visitors and customers and, if you don’t want to get stung, with the bees as well. I learned that, just like in life, it’s best to be organized and efficient, but still retain your spontaneity, and know when to smell the roses…I mean, the lavender. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, even though there were times of sweat and soreness throughout my internship, I wouldn’t have wanted this past summer to play out any other way. Some of the best people you will ever meet, sights you will ever see, and lavender you will ever pick await you at Lavender Hill Farm. I have my memories, and while I wouldn’t trade them for the world, now is the time for you to make yours.
It is difficult to summarize the girth of knowledge, experience, and memories I acquired, while working on Lavender Hill Farm. In the beginning, I chose the farm based on the location and the unique story that I could tell, but I quickly discovered it to be much more.
After a cross-country drive from Michigan, I arrived in early June, when the English Lavender was first blooming, but the Intermediate Lavender had yet to open. Cathy, Tom, and their family quickly took me in as one of their own, and we began preparing the beds for the short, yet flourishing season. I had weeded many soils in my past, but never with the peak of Mt. Rainier supervising my work and the sea breeze from the Puget Sound intertwining with the floral scent. Early into the internship, it became clear that I had found the perfect place to spend my summer.
Within a week, the flowers had blossomed enough for the gates to open and I received my first introduction into the inner workings of a small business and the marketing of a farm store. I varied my time between cleaning the lavender beds, preparing bunches, answering customers’ questions, and tending the farm store. In my free time, I was allowed to pursue an interest of mine and propagate some of the retiring Silver Leaf variety. Each day, I awoke to the buzz of hundreds of happy honeybees, the calming smell of lavender, and the joyful enthusiasm of the Lavender Hill Farm customers.
The season was too brief and soon the remaining blossoms were cut into bunches and hung from the basement ceiling to be dried and used for sachets next season. I left with the honeybees, carrying the nectar of a summer spent in the lavender fields of Vashon Island.
In the beginning, I could never have imagined how much working on Lavender Hill Farm would help me in my future. I learned how to manage a small business, supervise other short-term interns, make sachets, and maintain the fields. Working on an organic lavender farm on an island in Washington was something that I never imagined doing, but an experience I will cherish forever.
I woke up with one semester left of college, replaying in my mind the question most folks ask a young woman in my position: What are you going to do next?
What I wanted to do next is something that would make me happy with plenty of opportunity to learn, which led me to find the internship posting on Attra. I connected with Cathy over our NYC roots, and I drove across the country from Boston to nestle into life at Lavender Hill Farm.
Perhaps the best part of the internship was that I had a sole focus: loving lavender. My botanical education included learning the metaphoric and literal healing qualities of lavender (hello, cleaning bee stings, anyone?), how to run the still (silverleaf oil is worth waiting for), and perhaps most importantly, how to answer the question "Which variety of lavender is the most fragrant?"Who knew there were so many words to describe and to distinguish between scents of a flower?
I loved the tranquility of the farm. Even when crowds of happy visitors rushed the fields with excitement, harvesting flowers for oil and making lavender lemonade always brought me calmness. Teaching young kids how to make wands and giving demonstrations with the wreath machine was always a pleasure; I met folks from all over the world. The farm brought community and the work in the dirt brought satisfaction.
Without a doubt, a six-week internship with Cathy (and her family, friends, and plants) was the best way I could spend the summer. I have made lifelong friendships from this experience; I am thankful for the opportunity to work so closely with wonderful people on Vashon. I'm looking forward to the next time I'll visit our corner hill with next-door neighbor Mt. Rainier, overlooking Quartermaster Harbor, so that I can walk along the blissful rows of Phenomenal again.