Every year at Artists Alliance we host an intern from Boston University in the US. The interns are always fascinating, studious, intelligent and fun people. In 2011 we had the lovely Melissa Kuzoian. We’ve kept an eye on what Melissa has been up to since she left and we recently interviewed her to hear more about her latest ventures on top of New York City’s rooftops…
AA: Hi Melissa, it’s been awhile since you interned with us on the Boston University Intern Programme – what have you been up to since returning to the USA?
MK: After my wonderful stint in New Zealand in 2011 I returned to BU for my final semester and then moved to New York City soon after, where I found Brooklyn Grange and began a full-season apprenticeship there. I was also working with another non-profit in Manhattan as a financial analyst for about two years, which was a great experience, but this spring I decided to join the farm full time as their Office Manager and haven’t looked back since!
AA: Can you tell us about what Brooklyn Grange Farm is all about?
MK: Brooklyn Grange is a rooftop farm located on two roofs in NYC with about 2.5 acres of growing space. Each year we grow over 50,000 lbs of organic produce which finds its way to NYC residents via local restaurants, our CSA (community supported agriculture) program, and farmstands. We have a commercial apiary with 30+ beehives all over the city, and we have chickens! We also host all kinds of events up on the farms – from composting workshops to yoga classes to weddings!
AA: What does an average day look like for you?
MK: As the Office Manager, I get to see a bit of everything here, which I love. I keep the books, run internal financial reports, handle all accounts payable and receivable, and manage our bank accounts. I also coordinate our farmer training program, handle most things HR related and deal with general inquiries. Some afternoons I go up to the roof and get my hands dirty, which is the perfect way to end the day!
AA: How did your time in New Zealand benefit your career? (if at all!)
My time in New Zealand continues to benefit me and my career, in ways that I recognize and probably even some that I don’t! I think above all, exploring your stunningly beautiful country made me realize how important it is for me to spend time in nature. I generally found that Kiwis had a greater appreciation and respect for the earth, which I always admired. NYC is not the ideal place to find like-minded folks or spend time in nature, but I have managed to find the perfect place! And of course, working with Artists Alliance reaffirmed that I wanted to work for an organization, non-profit or otherwise, that was doing good, honest work for the direct benefit of others. I feel very lucky to have ended up here and know that my experience in NZ contributed in many ways!
AA: What’s an enduring memory of your time with Artists Alliance?
MK: Oh, I have so many! Just working with you Artist Alliance ladies was so lovely. We had lots of laughs and I think of my time there so fondly. I loved going to art openings with you all, something that I probably wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t interned with you. But, I have to say, sushi day was always my favorite day!
Images courtesy Melissa Kuzoian