White Violet Center for Eco-Justice intern Maren Van Cleave cleans lettuce from the White Violet Center garden.

When she came to White Violet Center for Eco-Justice (WVC), Maren Van Cleave was very interested in fiber art and in owning her own farm someday. Spending a year at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods added more fuel to her desires.

“I think it’s been interesting to see how a farm works,” the Blackfoot, Idaho, native said. “What goes into getting all of this food to people.”

For the past year, Maren has served as an intern with the ministry of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Maren arrived at WVC in May 2016, and her time here has been a very interesting experience, she said.

Maren was home-schooled by her parents, and her family has stayed in contact with her via phone calls, Skype and emails. She did admit, however, that it was difficult at first to be away from her close-knit family.

“It has been very different,” she said regarding her time away from her home and family. “But now, it’s just normal. I call my mom almost every night and get updates. It’s doesn’t feel like I’m that far away. But when I went home for Christmas, I realized how far away I really am.”

Coincidentally, Maren celebrated her 19th birthday at WVC.

Maren Van Cleave

During her time at WVC, Maren has explored the fiber arts – including spinning, knitting and weaving. She has also harvested USDA certified organic vegetables in high tunnels, as well as collected, washed and packed farm fresh eggs. She has also spent time with the alpacas.

Her time at WVC has reinforced her beliefs in ecological justice.

“Obviously, I’ve always believed in eco-justice,” she said. “But now, I can back up my opinions.”

She said she has always wanted to pursue a career in art and still hopes to do so in her future.

And Maren added her experience at WVC has changed her somewhat.

“I’ve grown up a lot,” she said. “I’ve developed my own thoughts on the environment and the food industry. I’ve become more confident.

“I’ve seen what this life is like and I like it.”

Maren will leave WVC on May 22, and said when she returns home, she plans to secure employment and begin saving money, which she intends to use either for school or to travel.

“I will miss White Violet Center,” she said. “I will miss the gardening, the alpacas and all of the people.”