Special to Iredell Free News

Mitchell Community College Agribusiness Technology student Hope Ostane-Baucom is the recipient of the Food-Inspired Resilience and Equity Internship with the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, a program offered through N.C. State University, N.C. A&T University, and the N.C. Department of Agriculture.

In her internship, Hope works with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council to help create fair, equitable access to healthy farm fresh food.

“From the day I decided that I wanted to study agriculture, that has always been my goal — to make sure that farm fresh food within 100 miles of your residence would be accessible to all people,” Ostane-Baucom explained. “I continue to learn more about food policy and how it impacts our local community.”

During the pandemic, while recovering from a surgery because of bilateral breast cancer, she found herself in a bubble because of her diagnosis. In that isolation, she started backyard gardening with her family, which provided an abundance of food produced from a small space. That experience inspired her to work toward eradicating food insecurity.

“I decided if [agriculture] was already something that I had the innate ability to do, then what if I put actual science behind a God-given gift,” said Ostane-Baucom.

Then she learned about Mitchell Community College’s Agribusiness Technology program.

After her third surgery, Hope took her first class in the program – an online class – during her recovery. When she found success in her classwork, Ostane-Baucom decided to fully commit to her studies.

“I’m so grateful to the guidance that was given to me … to show me how I could use the skills that were already in me and amplify them with coursework like soil science and plant science,” she said.

Ostane-Baucom is now BASF plant science certified. She also has earned a N.C. pesticide applicator license through Mitchell coursework.

Her internship with FIRE will end right before she graduates in May, but she feels that this will be the perfect end to the educational opportunity that she’s had at Mitchell.

In the future, Ostane-Baucom would like to bring food equitable programs like she’s working with in Mecklenburg County to Iredell County. To her, creating food equity in Iredell County means creating food equity spaces, honoring food hubs that are already in existence, and then amplifying their work to spread that access to more people.

“It’s about giving a sense of self-worth to people, who at one point believed that farm fresh food was inaccessible to them. These programs create that self-worth that lets them know that they deserve and are worth the best food that N.C. has to offer,” she said.


Learn more about Mitchell’s Agribusiness Technology program at mitchellcc.edu/agribusiness-technology/