History: Interning at Island Farm

Hi all! My name is Nathalie Uriarte-Ayala and this fall 2021, I had the opportunity to intern with Island Farm. Before my first day at Island Farm, I remember running past the farm and remarking the picturesque and quaint atmosphere it had. I was excited and nervous to start my internship, but I was more hopeful that it would be a fun and exciting internship. On my first day, I was greeted by the farm’s cat, Alfie. He made his presence known by meowing loudly and following Michelle Clower, my mentor, at any step she took.

Alfie attempting to lay on my work!
Alfie attempting to lay on my work!

Island Farm is not only a farm but a living history site that retells the past of the Etheridge family. The homestead contains the homeplace, the cookhouse, and the slave’s quarter. Each site has its interpreters that tell the history from the 1850s to the visitors. My main role on Island farm was to record the history interpreters tell visitors and to organize the interpretive manual. The interpretive manual contains all the history of the homestead, but it was not organized for each site.

The Homestead.

One of my favorite activities during my internship was during the pumpkin patch which Island Farm host every year. It occurs every Saturday throughout October, and it has a range of activities, vendors, and pumpkins available. A group of my classmates came to visit, and we checked out the different vendors. There were so many great items on sale, I was tempted to buy something from every vendor. However, I stayed strong and only bought some rock earrings that Anna helped me choose. Then we visited the candle-making station where an interpreter was burning wax in a fire pit. He explained to us how to make a candle and gave each of us a string. We had to dip the string into the wax and then allow it cool by walking around the fire pit. We did this twelve times and each of us had a unique shaped candle by the end of it. My classmates ended their trip by going to the pumpkin patch and choosing their pumpkins!

Rebekah (left) and Jane (right) choosing their pumpkins at pumpkin patch!

During my internship at Island Farm, I learned the history of the Etheridge family and the hardships islanders endured during the 1850s. I also had the chance to learn more about gardening techniques when working alongside Gabe, the farmer. He is very knowledgeable on the subject and is always providing a hand anywhere on the homestead. This past Monday, I had the chance to help him harvest Hayman sweet potatoes, although I was not much help since I had sprained my wrist the week before. Nonetheless, I helped him by pulling the cover crop out and raking anywhere I could.

Island Farm was a unique experience and allowed me the opportunity to learn more about the history of Roanoke Island and its gardening techniques.

— Nathalie, OBXFS 21