The 2022 Center for Civic Innovation Summer Internship Program includes several exciting and impactful projects, including Renewable Energy Comparisons in partnership with Bushelcraft Farm. A team of 3 interns worked on identifying and proposing renewable energy sources to power the farm’s infrastructure needs. Bushelcraft Farm is a not-for-profit educational farm in Elkhart that helps provide access to local food, outdoor experiences, and educational classes. CCI operates the internship program, and Jon Zirkle, the Director and Co-Founder of Bushelcraft Farm, was the team’s lead mentor who worked closely with the interns to provide them with resources and expertise.
Nicole Lopez (University of Notre Dame ‘25), Alexander Lefever (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology ‘25), and Siclaly Reyes-Medrano (Elkhart High School ‘24) comprise the Renewable Energy Comparisons Project team at CCI’s Elkhart site.
The intern team designed and helped implement an efficient renewable energy system to power the farm’s electrical needs—including fans, small power tools, phone charging, a well, and the current and new hoop house. Hoop houses are covered greenhouse structures that help provide frost protection and can help prevent insects from damaging crops.
Additionally, the group researched rainwater catchment systems to incorporate rainwater usage in the farm. Because the farm planned to implement the new hoop house in the near future—which has now officially been installed this August—, the team took into consideration the farm’s budget and how their proposed solutions fit within time and monetary constraints. The team also presented their progress, research, and plans for the farm’s future at a Bushelcraft Fundraiser Event to help inform and involve stakeholders. The information shared by the team helped convey the farm's needs to potential donors, and Bushelcraft was able to raise enough funds for the new hoophouse. In addition, a number of donors were further convinced to help fund renewable energy projects at the farm.
For more information on Bushelcraft Farm, visit their website at https://bushelcraftfarm.org/.