A Student’s View on Farming

After reading Nina's blog posts about working on a student garden guide, Sierra Bintliff, a student at Wesleyan University, was moved to write in about her student farming experience:

When I received an email last winter—through a farming listserv organized by Wesleyan University students—about interning for Bon Appétit on a small organic farm at St. Joseph’s College, I was thrilled at the opportunity to work for the summer in Maine for a company whose mission statement embodies the ideal combination of my two passions: sustainability and food.  As a Wesleyan student I both enjoyed the food provided by Bon Appétit’s talented kitchen staff and worked as a Bon Appétit catering employee.  There I experienced the genuine enthusiasm of the Bon Appétit community for providing quality food from sustainable sources. 

St. Joseph’s College and Bon Appétit’s combined objective for this summer was to further develop the college’s small student-run farm into a permanent, sustainable source of organic produce for the college and local food pantry.  They aimed to include both the participation and education of college students in the farm-to-fork process.  Although I had no previous farming experience beyond the small garden in my family’s back yard—which consists solely of tomatoes most years—I thought, “This is about the involvement of college students in the wellbeing of their communities.  I’m a college student. When can I start?”

In May I left Wesleyan after finals, drove straight to St. Joseph’s College, and joined the farm manager and the other interns breaking sod and expanding the existing plot.  We built rows and seeded them, weeded and irrigated, and generally tended to and cared for the fruits, vegetables, and livestock that would nourish the community that welcomed me warmly as soon as I arrived. 

Even from my earliest days on Pearson’s Town Farm it was clear that Bon Appétit, St. Joseph’s college, and the surrounding community were ecstatic about the project.  On our Community Planting Day we were joined by St. Joseph’s faculty and staff and their families, Bon Appétit employees, families associated with the local food pantry Catherine’s Cupboard, and families who simply live in the area. Local newspapers documented our progress and St. Joseph’s college advertised the farm to prospective students and their families. 

Expanding and developing Pearson’s Town Farm was not only a logical step in providing St. Joseph’s college with healthy, sustainable food, but the whole operation came to represent a community ideal that everyone was proud of.

Check out this video clip about the farm at St. Joseph's College from the local news.