Hello! My name is Arlo Johnson, and this summer I will be participating in the SIM grant process in association with the Benton House.
My internship has three points of focus: helping in the outdoor garden at Benton House, creating an indoor garden that will produce food during harsh Chicago winters, and collaborating with the athletics program in order to run a free soccer camp.
My reasons for choosing this Internship are numerous, but are all centered on an increasing desire to connect with the community around me. I am in the beginning stages of the process, and I am super excited to take things to the next level.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the Benton house, I strongly urge you to take a look at their website (link provided below). In short, they are a settlement house that provides a number of services for the Bridgeport community, one of them is a food pantry that helps to fight hunger in the community. Food grown in the outdoor Garden goes directly to the food pantry and allows people to eat fresh and healthy food. The first piece of my internship is to help get more people involved with the garden. Fundraisers for the garden are being planned that will include workshops aimed at educating people on growing food and sharing gardening knowledge between members of the community. I will help to teach one of these workshops, which will be centered around the construction of raised beds.
The second portion of my internship is aimed at creating an indoor garden that will help to produce fresh food for the food pantry all year round. It can also be used to more efficiently germinate seed before the last frost of the winter, and allow gardeners to more easily transplant plants to the outdoor garden. The indoor garden will be housed in the basement of the Benton House and will use a mixture of hydroponic and aquaponic setups. This will be a collaborative effort and will include any member of the community that shows interest. The plan is to set up the garden over the course of the summer, so that it is ready for the winter. A working diagram of the set up is underway and is being drawn up with the help of Miles Pena, an IIT architecture student that has done some work with the Plant, which is a business in Chicago that operates a large scale aquaponic garden. A Kickstart campaign will be launched to help fund the project, with a short video underway showcasing the need for a year round supply of healthy food and the goals of the indoor garden.
The last piece of my internship is to help run a free soccer camp through the Benton Houses athletic department. The camp will be held twice a week on the field across from the Benton House, it will be intramural and will involve middle school aged youth. Other members of the Benton house will help me to run the practices and have as much fun as possible. Right now outreach to different schools and community centers in the Bridgeport area is underway.
I am so excited to put my passions to work and be involved in my community. It is also a plus that I get to spend some valuable time outside. I have always been interested in gardening and I am looking to broaden my knowledge in the field through hands on experience. I also have been playing soccer since age ten and have coached for around four years now. I see this internship as a chance to help engage with the activities I love most in life, in the most positive and inclusive way possible.