Jul 30th, 2013

Take 5 with Elizabeth Sonifrank, Community Kitchen Garden Research Intern

by Jonah Holland, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Elizabeth Sonifrank, Seasonal Research Intern, focusing on the Community Kitchen Garden.

Elizabeth Sonifrank, Community Kitchen Garden Research Intern, surrounded by blanket flowers, Roma tomatoes and basil.

Acting as the Garden’s reporter, as I was recently referred to, is a really fun job. It gives me a reason to ask questions, be curious, and find out what’s going on in all different parts of the Garden.  When we the Garden hires someone new, it’s part of my job to get to know them, and to help you get to know them too.  Meet Elizabeth Sonifrank. She’s the Community Kitchen Garden Research Intern.

Elizabeth  attended Piedmont Virginia Community College and earned an Associate’s degree in Horticulture and Business Administration. Then, she transferred to Virginia Tech, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Horticulture this past May. She’ll be here to help Community Kitchen Garden Coordinator, Brian Vick, in many facets of the 10,000+ pounds of fresh local veggies that we hope to produce from the garden before the growing season is over.   Elizabeth & Brian use Integrated Pest Management and many organic gardening practices in the CKG, rather than synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

When her internship ends, in mid-October, she hopes that she’ll be able to continue working for the Garden.

Q: What’s your favorite part of the Garden?
A: The Asian Valley, I love Japanese maples, and there are so many different cultivars to see.

Q: Can you say something about the research you are doing or why this is called a research internship?

A: Among other things, intern Laura Schumm and I are working on a pest and disease reference notebook, containing fact sheets and recommendations for some of the common pests and diseases we encounter in the Garden.

Q: What’s a typical workday like for you?
A: On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I work with Brian in the CKG, planting, weeding, harvesting, making deliveries to FeedMore, leading volunteer groups, or any general upkeep that needs to be done. Tuesdays and Thursdays I rotate with the other horticulturists, helping with their garden areas. I also work on our research project Tuesday afternoons or whenever I have extra time.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working here?
A: The garden is beautiful, and everyone I’ve met here is so nice. It’s a great place to work.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: When we take an individual harvest to FeedMore, it doesn’t seem like very much, but it adds up quickly. Since I started here in the beginning of June, we have delivered 2,360 pounds of produce. It’s rewarding when we put our vegetables in their cooler, and have trouble finding room for it all!


Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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