AgPack Strong: Farm Life, Big City

Recent NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences graduate Morgan Malone stands among crops in a community garden.

Recent graduate Morgan Malone’s career path is uncommon, even among her former classmates in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: her new job lets her live the farm life inside the big city.

Starting in July, Malone will take over as farm manager at the Well Fed Community Garden, a 1.5-acre plot of land that supplies the Irregardless Café and Catering with organic produce – from a location just outside of downtown Raleigh, inside the beltline.

“Morgan…clearly delights in witnessing the growth and seasonal cycling of [plants],” said Anya Gordon, who co-owns both the garden and the Irregardless. “This awe of the miraculous cycle of life is a primary requirement for us at the Well Fed.”

Malone graduated in May 2016 with a major in ecology, evolution and conservation biology and a minor in agroecology. We managed to catch up with her before she left campus.

How did you choose your academic path through CALS?

I fell in love with crop science and agriculture through taking an intro class with [Professor] Michelle [Schroeder-Moreno]. It helped me understand that there’s this whole other side to the crop science department – the agroecology focus. The community and the people involved were very excited. I like doing a lot of different things and collaborating with people.

I got more into conservation biology and the practicality of implementing projects – a lot of times on the biology side, you’re studying nature, but when you implement a conservation project, you have to figure out how the different people involved will make it happen.

Why do you enjoy working in agriculture in this way?

To me, that’s happiness – plants growing and people coming together. It all just makes sense to me. It’s how the world works, and so being involved with that is really exciting.

And Raleigh is the perfect city for urban agriculture…I think it’s important for people to know where their food comes from, and that it’s a process they can be involved in. Fresh food is so important to health and community.

What was your biggest challenge during your time in CALS?

Balancing all the different academic things I was doing with having a social life as well. I’m the kind of person who will sign up for everything.

How did you turn that into an opportunity?

I did a little bit of everything, and I learned how to find what made me happy and focus on succeeding in those areas.

What advice do you have for undergraduates?

There’s so much you can do at NC State, and there’s a lot you might not even know about. Find those things that make you really excited, and don’t worry about what’s going to go on your transcript – find where you can succeed. See what you can do, and then do it well.

C. Kellner

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