Meet the Summer 2021 Knoll Intern Crew!

As the summer begins, the Knoll at Middlebury College is more than excited to welcome its new cohort of interns! These wonderful folks will be learning, growing, and working in the garden for the whole summer, taking on some cool independent projects too. Feel free to say hi if you see them working around the garden… this crew doesn’t bite either!

Samia (no pronouns, just Samia), of Dhaka, Bangladesh + Los Angeles, California, is a rising sophomore studying neuroscience and psychology. Samia is an extroverted introvert, someone who loves listening to people’s stories and connecting them to Samia’s own life. This process shows Samia how interconnected all of our lives are, without even knowing. When asked how nature show’s up in Samia’s life, this was Samia’s response: “I was originally born and raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh until I was eleven. Some of my fondest memories from back then takes place in my grandparents’ village. It would take forever to get to the small town and the thin roads were always surrounded by bright fields of mustard, rice, wheat, and maize plants. Soon when I moved to a large suburban city in LA, California, I realized how much I had appreciated seeing those views once or twice every year. I think this yearning to recreate the same happy memories led me to get over my superstition that I had the opposite of a green thumb. I started growing my own plants from seeds that I saved while cooking and just learning and experimenting in small scale. The first time I visited the knoll, it was like love at first sight.”

Raechel (she/her/hers) hails from Ashe County, North Carolina. An ultimate frisbee player, conservation biologist, flower enthusiast, brassica-skeptic, and short king. “I grew up in the woods in Western NC and have always found myself most comfortable close to trees and water,” said Raechel. “My dad always kept a large garden in the summer and getting my hands into the soil with him and reaping the rewards at the dinner table gave me a forever love of growing food, even though most of the agriculture in my hometown was Christmas tree farming. I’m especially interested in perennial agriculture and loved my internship last summer working with the New Perennials Project and am beyond excited to build on that experience and spend time in the sun at the Knoll this summer!”

Day (they/them/theirs) calls the South home but now lives in Middlebury! They are a rising sophomore studying neuroscience and gender/feminist studies. Day is a certified tree-hugger, fan of fantasy books, and coffee drinker. They shared, “I have been gardening for most of my life and am a big animal lover as well as a plant-parent. My favorite activities involve the outdoors (swimming, hiking, biking) and I feel the most grounded when I am outside in the dirt. The environment impacts every aspect of my life from my studies to my family to my diet. I know that I am just one part of a huge planet and I live my life with the earth as my center.”

Andrés (he/him/his), of Los Angeles, California, is a rising junior studying Environmental Justice. He describes himself as a rebel rouser (the good kind), a lover of people and nature, an un-learner and learner, and a coffee aficionado. When asked how nature shows up in his life, this is what he said: “The outdoors have always been a space for me to take a breath in this fast-paced world (sometimes… not always). It’s important to me that I do everything in my capacity to make these garden/farm/outdoor spaces warmer, brighter, kinder, and more comfortable for others, so that the option to enjoy these spaces is always there. I’m certain that my time at the Knoll will give me the tools and experience needed to build liberating outdoor spaces.”

A brief hello from the 2021 Knoll interns!

As the growing season begins, the Knoll at Middlebury College is excited to introduce its new cohort of interns! These wonderful folks will be gardening alongside our volunteers, in addition to taking on some cool independent projects. Feel free to say hi if you see them around campus… they don’t bite! In fact, they are probably some of the kindest people you’ll ever meet (not an exaggeration whatsoever). 

Andrés (he/him/his), of Los Angeles, California, is a sophomore studying Environmental Justice. He describes himself as a rebel rouser (the good kind), a lover of people and nature, an un-learner and learner, and a coffee aficionado. When asked how nature shows up in his life, this is what he said: “I’ve always had a complicated relationship with nature and the great outdoors. I’ve always found peace and comfort outside… being able to reflect more intentionally among Joshua Trees, amongst the wildlife of the Pacific Ocean, or on long strolls to the Knoll! At the same time, however, all of the nature around us is deeply embedded with histories of harm and oppression. Frankly, the outdoors, nature, farming–whatever you wanna call it–shows up as a place of conflict in my life, and I’m working through that and with it every day. I’m certain that my time at the Knoll will help me in forming my relationship with the nature around me.” 

Samia (no pronouns, just Samia), of Dhaka, Bangladesh + Los Angeles, California, is a first-year studying neuroscience and psychology. Samia is an extroverted introvert, someone who loves listening to people’s stories and connecting them to Samia’s own life. This process shows Samia how interconnected all of our lives are, without even knowing. When asked how nature show’s up in Samia’s life, this was Samia’s response: I was originally born and raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh until I was eleven. Some of my fondest memories from back then takes place in my grandparents’ village. It would take forever to get to the small town and the thin roads were always surrounded by bright fields of mustard, rice, wheat, and maize plants. Soon when I moved to a large suburban city in LA, California, I realized how much I had appreciated seeing those views once or twice every year. I think this yearning to recreate the same happy memories led me to get over my superstition that I had the opposite of a green thumb. I started growing my own plants from seeds that I saved while cooking and just learning and experimenting in small scale. The first time I visited the knoll, it was like love at first sight.”

Isabela (she/her/hers), of Bakersfield, California, is a sophomore studying International and Global Studies, with a focus on gender and sexuality studies. She loves breakfast food, checking the mailbox, and laughing at almost anything and everything. When asked how nature shows up in her life, Isabela said: “I’ve been lucky enough to have nature show up in a lot of different aspects of my life, and the most special times have always been with friends, family, and at work. Since I was young, my mom has always encouraged me to spend time outdoors and getting to know different outdoor spaces with friends is really what grounds me to my home in Bakersfield. Exploring outside has also done the same for me here at Midd! My favorite outdoor activities include gardening (especially at the knoll!), hiking, swimming, and laying in the grass under the sun.”

David (he/him/his), of Montclair, New Jersey (bagels), is a sophomore feb studying Conservation Biology. He’s a rock-climber, pizza-making expert, one-time winner of the Roald Dahl book collection giveaway, lover of the choccy milk machine, and identifies with Tradescantia zebrina (a plant). When asked how nature show’s up in his life, David said: “My mother tells me that as a child, I used to walk around the park giving people pretty leaves. In high school, I slept in my yard for consecutive two months. My favorite study spots are atop the sugar maples near BiHall, and I could not be more grateful to be a part of the most wonderful place at Midd.”

Tashi (she/her/hers), of Queens, New York + Kathmandu, Nepal, is a first-year interested in Global Studies with a focus on Environmental Change and a minor in Food Studies. Tashi is super passionate about food and is an aspiring food/boba connoisseur. When asked how nature showed up in her life, Tashi said: “Having spent most of my childhood in Nepal I am deeply fascinated by sustainable agriculture and how it can be implemented to help mitigate the negative effects of global climate change.”

Hannah (she/her/hers), of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a sophomore studying Dance and Anthropology. Hannah is a lover of movement, soil, bright colors, dark chocolate, and desert sky. When asked how nature shows up in her life, Hannah shared: “My life is devoted to the more-than-human world, to the relationships with landscape both wide and intricate. Barefoot outside, with trees and wind, is where I learn the best, feel the most myself, and have all my heart to offer. Gardening was an unnoticed privilege in my life until I came to Midd, where it has become one of my most cherished places of education, story, and breath. To grow and be grown, to really work, to speak the language of seasonal magic, to deeply trust that I am inside a living earth — and damn is it beautiful — this is what gardening returns to me, time and time again.”

Please reach out to us if you have any questions (Knoll related or otherwise). See you at the garden!

Garden Volunteer Hours: Frequently Pondered Questions

(because the questions we ask can be different from the ones we’re thinking about)

What are garden volunteer hours?

Garden volunteer hours provide a structure for embodied practice of tending soil, place, plant and animal kin, in community. We welcome everyone to join the learning and the doing, and each session will offer a number of different tasks and projects so individuals can choose how they’d like to engage for the time. We orient and organize ourselves as a group or small groups, and we sort, sweep, tend, rake, dig, weed, move compost in wheelbarrows, prune, plant, harvest, wash and compost while we notice, observe, ask questions, admire complexity, tune in or out, feel the sunshine and the breeze, and visit together. If we want to learn about the life cycle of braconid wasps in host hornworms on a tomato harvest day, we can talk about that. If we want to chop the holy hell out of a compost pile for a half an hour, we can do that. If we want to weed quietly with the friend you came with, we can do that. The work provides a space that we can fill as you wish.

How will we hold the space?

In a care-full way. We honor the intrinsic consequentiality of our relationship with the land and its beings, and the physicality of ourselves and our interactions. We also honor the complex, deep, violent, and also joyful histories inscribed in ourselves, in our contexts and environments, in the practices we carry forward, and in the narratives around what we’re doing, who does it, and why. And the way we can reshape and reclaim narratives. The Knoll tells stories about how we consider and choose to stand in relationship to place and kin, to each other. This is the story of slowing down, observing, noticing what comes up, being humbled by the noticing, and working in the company of others to try to build that space with care and to feed each other. 

Why?

To mend and to tend and to grieve and to strive and to sweat and to feel the aliveness met with responsibility, attention, listening, and noticing that is love.

Why BIPOC affinity space?

We offer this space in conversation and collaboration with the Anderson Freeman Center. Standing in right relation to land and introducing grounded ways of embodied practice and learning means also facing the centuries and generations of oppression operationalized through policies and made manifest on bodies of color. We enter these conversations in different ways, from different places, and so we offer another space for them to be held. The affinity space sessions are facilitated by BIPOC staff and student interns. While the Knoll is not closed to others during this time, we invite others’ generosity to offer spaciousness for the group when in session. Friendly acknowledgment and space can go a long way, knowing that we all come together in so many other rich and meaningful ways on campus.

What should I bring?

Your self, as much or little as you have to bring that day, we will meet your wholeness as you are. A full water bottle. Shoes with closed toes. A snack. Some layers of clothing to pile on in case we’re doing quiet work, or to shed during the walk out or if we’re really moving. Check the weather before you come. We have a few extra rain coats and rubber boots in case. You can stash your bag in the shed if you need to. We have a portapotty on site. 

I really want to come but signups are always full…?

Please reach out to us to request to be added to our on-call volunteer list. You can also share with us your ideas about other ways to get involved: knoll@middlebury.edu. We are eager to hear and bring to light your creative ideas!

I am not yet 18, what about the waiver?

Once per academic year, participants sign a physical release form to participate. If you are not yet able to sign as an 18 year old, please email Megan in advance to coordinate signing by a guardian or parent (an email or phone call will do).

But, I haven’t/I’m not/I don’t know how to…

You are your own perfect container and so just come. The Knoll is a place for experimentation, creativity, practice, and learning by doing, from our experiences, from plants, the soil… We will try to celebrate the learnings big and small, and laugh through the mishaps big and small, and apologize when we make mistakes, big and small. If you can do that, you’re all set!

How can I learn more?

We have a small library and a number of recommended resources. You can read about the evolution of the Knoll from its student-dreamed beginnings in 2002/2003 at go/theknoll. You can reach out to one of the interns past and present, food and garden educators past and present, and here are some recommended resources from partner organizations.

Late Summer 2020 Updates from the Knoll

A note from Megan Brakeley ’06, food and garden educator at the Knoll:

WELCOME! This fall is “unconventional” in so many ways—and fluid, and full of unknowns and questions, and so I want to honor that by starting this note there. I’m excited about what we can create together this fall at the Knoll. And I’m hopeful that we can embrace this unknown in the way that we foster open conversation, ask all the questions, and think carefully about what we’re doing and why.

Here are some updates and things I think I, we, know as we look toward fall.

Please note that, during Phase 1 of the College’s re-opening, the Knoll is only available to students enrolled as in-person learners for Fall 2020. We apologize to our community, staff and faculty colleagues for any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Events for students at the Knoll will be considered on a very limited basis, and must directly pertain to Orientation during Phase 1. We regret to inform you that the pizza oven at the Knoll will not be available at this time. For the latest information about events, check out go/knollevents.

This summer, we worked with Renee Wells on a statement about the Knoll’s commitment to antiracist practices and supporting Black and BIPOC students. You can read this message on our website here. This has been a long time in coming. And I am very much interested in how we, together, through an intersectional lens, address food justice as it relates to land justice as they relate to food systems, sustainability, our roles at Middlebury, and more. This fall we plan to host a conversation about what this looks like in practice, how we focus energies, and how this relates to our broad theme around regeneration, which the Knoll has always been about. Please stay tuned for more info and reach out to Megan with ideas.

In spite of efforts to have student workers on-campus this summer, we pivoted in the uncertainty of this spring and instead had the great pleasure of getting to host four staff members who typically work with Midd Dining. Nancy and Jeff started just after Labor Day, and Jess and Nick started in mid June. The garden has been in great hands, and we have been busy growing and prepping for fall arrivals. You can read short intros to three of our four folks on Instagram if you missed the posts! We focused efforts on growing a smaller number of overall crops (think three 30×30′ beds of winter squash), regenerating soil health through growing cover crops, and attending to long-needed projects like path maintenance, reclaiming and planting the hugelkultur beds, and taming sumac. Most of the crops that we are growing this fall we consider “low touch,” storage crops like butternut, delicata, and kabocha squash, four varieties of potatoes, paste tomatoes, four varieties of onions, garlic, carrots, and beets. It is impossible to imagine this summer without these four dedicated, fun folks, and we were grateful to have the opportunity to share this time.

For fall—we will be able to host Volunteer Hours as usual, roughly from the period between 9/8/2020 – 11/1/2020. This year we are asking folks to sign up in advance in accordance with COVID regulations. We are also capping group size to six participants; signups and attendance will be scheduled on Presence. We are aiming to offer two-hour volunteer gardening sessions five times each week during the fall season.

In additional exciting news: we have just secured that we’re going to be able to offer PE credit at the Knoll this fall, for in-person learners who attend Volunteer Hours. Folks will need to participate in at least four sessions (at two hours each) – check out Presence for more info.

We are growing the ES 112 experiment this fall, and we will have a cut-your-own flower station set up. The grazing garden is also planted and available once in-room quarantines have lifted. We are continuing our partnership with Chief Stevens of the Nulhegan Abenaki that started in the spring of 2019. We put the corn seed saving project on hold this year due to uncertainty around our labor availability, but we are growing Abenaki dry beans. We look forward to hosting a conversation with Chief Stevens on 9/1 as a part of MiddView orientation to talk more about this partnership and share some stories.

We have also been busy harvesting seeds, dried flowers, etc. and thinking about potential creative ways for folks to engage with the Knoll from afar. Perhaps we make and send seed packets of Knoll-saved seed for others further afield? Perhaps we distribute bunches of dried flowers and materials beforehand, then hold a virtual wreath-making tutorial over Zoom? Perhaps we work on wrangling space at a Maker Space somewhere to laser engrave signage for the perennials around the garden? There is so much potential and I am eager to hear your ideas.

This is plenty to think about right now… and there’s plenty of conversation to come, but I wanted to let you know what we’ve been up to this summer and get the conversation going. I am so looking forward to welcoming new students to the fall garden, whether virtually or in-person, and to hearing about your goals and hopes for the Knoll. For some visual context, check out the Knoll’s Instagram account @middknoll.

In the meantime, safe travels and looking forward to seeing you soon!

All my best,
Megan

July at the Knoll

July came in hot, quite literally, at the Knoll. A week long heat wave in the early part of the month certainly exacerbated the drought conditions. High heat did make for some happy tomatoes and our cherries have been coming in in bright orange and red flushes. Green beans have also become a bountiful harvest yielding at least 20 lbs. of beans every few days. While most of that has gone to Atwater Catering and HOPE Food Shelf, our interns spent one afternoon making dilly beans.

Many seedlings were transplanted out in July, the majority of which were part of the brassica family. Since then, the rows of kale and collards have been harvested and brought by the case to Atwater dining. Our transplanted broccoli remains under its row cover as it matures for the ES112 class to use for experiments this fall. The interns spent a few afternoons out at the Seiler’s farm in Cornwall Vermont to help Paul Seiler transplant over 300 hemp plants. After years as a dairy farmer, Paul has decided to switch over to hemp cultivation. So far his plants are looking healthy and well-adjusted despite the hot transplanting conditions.

Garlic was harvested and hung in the middle of the month. As preventative measures due to the leak moth infestation, the tops of each plant were cut off and damaged outer layers were removed until a pristine bulb was left underneath. Bulbs were divided by variety and bunched into groups of five. They now hang from the rafters of the shed alongside our dry flowers. For days, the shed smelled of fresh garlic.

The flower beds are in full bloom at the Knoll. On more quiet afternoons, our interns have harvested and arranged bouquets to surprise some of the offices on campus. The cut your own flower stand has been set up and the team has been taught how and when to harvest each flower, so, please, come test our knowledge.

Food Works field trips were in full swing in July. Yale Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies professor, Maria Trumpler, came to Weybridge House for a cheese tasting workshop. Five different Vermont based cheeses were tried from a variety of productions of different sizes and animals. The interns were excited to participate in a formal cheese tasting and learned a lot about the complexity of cheeses. In addition to Maria Trumpler’s workshop, interns went to Golden Well sanctuary in Bristol for a workshop on food as medicine. Nicole Burke walked the interns through the five elements and their relations to the body and food. Following the workshop, interns harvested a bountiful lunch from the Golden Well farm and made salads, pesto, and frittatas. The end of the Food Works program brought interns and employers out to the Knoll for a sendoff lunch. The Knoll interns prepared a large salad and pizzas with homemade white garlic sauce, cherry tomatoes, herbs, and potatoes (all produce from the garden, of course). Interns also tested out their baking abilities in the oven and baked two blueberry pies, both of which turned out only slightly singed from the high heat. Everyone left with bellies full of our Knoll produce.

Meet the 2018 Team

Micah, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, is a rising sophomore. Their academic interests lie in the gender studies and architecture realm. This coming fall, Micah will be the one of the music directors for radio station and truly enjoys all music genres, especially “that euro EDM electronic thing”. If Micah had to choose their favorite tool, it would have to be the Weed Eater*, which holds a special place in their heart.

*Weed Eater aka Weed Wacker aka String Trimmer

Raine, of Camden, Maine, is a rising senior English and Studio Art major. She has really enjoyed the sugar snap pea harvesting in a true “Blueberries for Sal” spirit. On her free time, she enjoys daydreaming about the Knoll, looking through pictures of the Knoll, and reading old blog posts from the Knoll. Raine’s favorite tool might be the dandelion digger, although it’s much more satisfying when the soil is loose enough so that you don’t need to use it.

Thibault, of Hong Kong, is a rising junior Physics major. As a Frenchman, Thibault has been rooting on France during these past few World Cup weeks and is ecstatic with their well-deserved victory. On his off hours, you can find Thibault working at the college observatory, so please, brainstorm your hardest astronomy questions for him. Thibault’ favorite tool is a bed fork (although he has had a brief love affair with the scythe).

Theo, of Cold Spring, New York is a rising junior, Conservation Biology major. As a member of both the Track and Cross Country teams, Theo dabbles in running and can be seen exploring the TAM when he’s not at the Knoll. Theo is a proud supporter of organic farming and has truly enjoyed partaking in the Knoll’s organic practices. He also enjoys prepping beds for new crops and, so his favorite tool in the shed is the strap hoe.

Megan graduated from Middlebury in 2006 and is the new Food and Garden Educator at the Knoll. She is excited be teaching and guiding our interns as they learn more about agriculture at the Knoll. On her off hours you can see her toddler wrangling and infant cheek squishing. She loves all the plants equally, but admittedly gravitates towards the sugar snap peas and the volunteer poppies. Megan’s favorite tool is the ho-mi EZ digger.

June at the Knoll

It’s been a busy June out at the Knoll. Our four interns and new Food and Garden Educator, Megan Osterhout Brakeley ‘06 have been working hard to carry the Knoll now that Jay has officially retired. The month started with a visit to Golden Russet for starter plants and many hours of starting seedlings in the hoop house. With work benches lined with freshly planted seed, our interns tilled the floors and broadcasted a cover crop of oats and peas so that the hoop house soil could get a well-deserved rest this season. Out in the garden, the team planned out the crop rotation with the intention of resting overworked beds and assigned the remaining beds with specific families of crop to host. The “Emmerson” bed received six rows of tomatoes, a row of peppers, and a row of potatoes. Each crop is looking healthy and the fruit is really starting to fill out. The “Derick” bed also saw some new flower seeds which have already germinated and started to grow. The hoop house seedlings are already grown up enough for transplanting (check out our beet and cucurbit seedlings from mid-June). The regenerative beds, “Konesni”, “Rosow”, and “Mikey”just received transplanted squash, pumpkins, and cucumbers and are acclimating nicely despite the extreme heat. Among the other recently planted crop are varieties of green and shell beans, beets, carrots, and daikon and storage radishes.fullsizeoutput_f60.jpeg

Our harvests so far have been small, but delicious. Our spring planted “Bright Lights” chard and lettuce heads were recently cut and washed in order to keep from bolting in this heat (check out Micah, Thibault, and Megan making “Bright Lights” bunches). We’ve also had a bountiful sugar snap pea harvest and have collected at least 16 pounds thus far. Our friends at Atwater catering and Otter Creek Bakery received some baby chard and herbs from our spiral herb garden.

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Weed and pest control has been a top priority this summer. This summer has been remarkably dry and droughty at the Knoll. On our two wet, grey days in June, the team suited up in boots and rain gear and were outside pulling poison parsnip from the tall grass. It’s important that we keep the Knoll clear of it so that we can continue to host barefootand other visitors without risking its effects. Pest control has also been a frequent activity for the team. As an organic practicing garden, our primary form of control is close monitoring and tedioushand removal of invasive insects. Our garlic, chive, shallot, and onion crops have, unfortunately, been host to leek moths. These insects have truly done a number on our garlic, however, we’re putting in regular hours into meticulous leek moth removal, so the crop continues to grow. Further down in the garden, our cucurbits have been found by cucumber beetles; surprisingly quick striped beetles who love our squash crop. Extra attention has been payed to removing those beetles and has been prepping us for the dreaded tomato horn worm. Hopefully, by the time they come around, we will be pros at insect removal and will make quick and thorough work of it.

Reunion created a bit of excitement for the team. Beds were weeded and particularly wild edges were tidied up in anticipation for our welcomed visitors. Our interns were given a lesson in the pizza oven and it was promptly fired up so we could serve pizza to the guests. Friday and Saturday of reunion brought in close to 200 alumnae and families to the Knoll, each taking interest in a different aspect of our busy landscape. Past garden interns were eager to see how the Knoll has expanded since they were here. Among the newer additions, the new labyrinth proved to be a very exciting addition to the Knoll and its contemplative path saw many visitors. It was certainly exciting to see so many visitors at once, and to share our Knoll knowledge and stories with them.

June has been a truly bustling month filled with even more large and small projects than have been reported on in this post. With the heat of July, we’re looking forward to continuing with transplants and the cultivation of our crop. Hopefully Friday’s predicted rain fall will give our plants an extra boost and break this heat. Keep tuning in for more updates about the happenings of the Knoll.fullsizeoutput_f61.jpeg

 

These Dogs’ Days Are Almost Over

The onset of fall means cooler temperatures, the beginning of classes, and pumpkin-spice-everything. It also means, unfortunately, the end of our summer out at the farm. We’ve been busy harvesting crops and preparing the farm for the fall, and will soon be handing off the work to the fall interns.

It’s been a bountiful summer for our tomato crops, despite the best efforts of the hornworms to eat all the plants. We’ve had big harvests every week, maxing out at 51 pounds one week! At this point, it’s evident that the tomatoes in beds without buckwheat are out-producing the tomatoes in beds with buckwheat by a significant margin, which is interesting to note and will help us inform our planting decisions next year.

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(Leeks!)

We also took a visit to beautiful Golden Russet Farm in Shoreham, where we learned about Will and Judy Stevens’s history with the land and their business philosophy. An extra special treat was that Mike Pallozzi, a summer intern last year, is one of their summer workers this year and gave us a wonderful tour of the farm. It was interesting to hear what his experience working on a private for-profit farm was like after working on the knoll!

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In addition to our flower operation, we recently started selling our basil, since we have a large amount. Thanks to Maisie’s posting on Front Porch Forum, we’ve been able to sell our basil and flowers to both community members and people affiliated with the college!

As the growing season winds down, we’re beginning to look forward to next year. When a crop is finished, we take out the old plants and put a cover crop in their place to protect the soil over the winter, ensuring that next year’s crops will have a good place to grow. A less exciting but equally important task is pulling out any weeds that are going to seed so that next year’s crew will have fewer weeds to pull.

We’re not quite done yet, though—we have a busy final few days ahead of us, with visits from the Cornwall second graders, a MiddView trip, a Transfer & Exchange students trip, and a Sustainability Tour group. In other words, we will be using the pizza oven a lot. We’re excited to show people what we’ve been up to this summer, and especially for the second graders to see how far the pumpkins they planted have come.

Though we’re sad our summer is coming to an end, it has been both an educational and an exciting summer working at the farm. Working with Jay has been an irreplaceable experience, thanks to his knowledge, patience, and, most of all, his immense kindness. We know the farm will be in good hands this fall, but whether we’ll be abroad or on campus this coming semester, we will always come back.

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(The farm during the partial solar eclipse!)

Knoll Knews!

Howdy hey folks! We know it’s been a little since our last update, so here’s a four-word summary of what’s been going on at the farm: tomatoes, tobacco hornworms, tears.

We’ve been spending a lot of time recently thinking about tomatoes: led by our fearless tomato enthusiast Maisie, we’ve measured the difference in tomato production from the beds in our experimental regenerative area. The conclusion? Tomatoes taste good. (We’ve been forced to eat a few.) Also, the plants seem to produce more in beds without buckwheat than in beds with it.

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Unfortunately, we’re not the only ones who have enjoyed the tomatoes this summer. We’ve been graced by an abundance of tobacco hornworms, a vibrant green caterpillar whose bright exterior belies its evil intentions. These nasty nuggets have been doing a number on our tomato plants. How dastardly! Luckily, the interns, with our hornworm enthusiast Julia leading the effort, have managed to squish most of them before they can do too much damage. We had a real treat recently when Will found a hornworm the size of a beefy finger; it was so excited to be stepped on that it squirted its insides three feet up!

Now for the tears: Emma and Helene left the farm recently. Sad! While we were sad to see them go, we are glad that they’re having fun in their new exotic locations (Copenhagen and New Jersey, respectively). However, sad tears weren’t our only tears! We cried tears of joy when Liesel joined our crew, splitting her time between doing “rock stuff” in BiHall and working at the farm. Huzzah!

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A quick business update: we’ve been selling our cut flowers on campus, and have also continued with our PYO flower operation. It has expanded so much that we’ve hired a consultant to look into offshore bank accounts, and are hoping to move toward a more international market. We’ve also enjoyed selling our produce to Atwater dining for Language Schools, and are excited to start selling to them for fall semester soon.

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We also visited Wild Roots Farm in Bristol, where Jon Turner showed us around. It was great to see his farm after he has helped us so much with ours! A highlight was catching chickens that escaped from the coop; none of us balked at the challenge, we’re no chickens!

The past few weeks, we’ve noticed lots of changes at the farm: many songbirds have left, while lots of crows have come; most summer crops are putting their energy into fruit production; and our tan lines have gotten more defined than we ever thought possible. We look forward to spending the rest of the summer on the farm with Jay and Eva!

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We Still Out Here

Surprise! We’re still here! You’ve probably been sent into a deep existential crisis without our farm updates to help you through the day, so we’ll try to fix that now.

A few weeks ago we visited Paul Horton at Foggy Meadow Farm in Benson. Paul grows a great amount of produce for farmer’s markets in Rutland, Middlebury, and Burlington. Although he farms during the summer, he specializes in winter production in greenhouses. Paul got into farming later in life, after working as a businessman for several years. Even the Weybridge Preservation Interns order his produce to be enjoyed during the year!

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We were also lucky to be able to take part in a class for the School of the Environment; the class took place at the farm, and was focused on non-human others (a category that includes plants, microorganisms in the soil, and many members of Congress). We did several activities on the farm with the students, like putting another layer on one of our Hügelkultur mounds and cleaning up an area that will be a plantable bed next year.

Last week, we held the First Annual Midd Summer Farm Festival, which was a great success. The crowds were huge, it was the biggest crowd of any Midd Summer Farm Festival ever, the people loved it, just look at the polls. Don’t listen to anybody who says otherwise. We served up 30 pizzas and a massive salad with lettuce, tomatoes, and edible flowers fresh from the farm (and that’s not fake news). There were fun people and good vibes and bumpin’ music, and we were glad to see everybody enjoying the farm.

Recently we’ve been harvesting sun gold and Ruth’s Perfect tomatoes, rainbow chard, beets, and lettuce. We also harvested lots of our garlic, which we’ll string up to dry soon. We’d like to see a vampire try to get near our farm!

We’re also going to be starting open hours for flower picking at the farm soon—it’ll be just dandy(lion). (But we also have non-dandelion flowers, including but not limited to zinnias and cosmos and zinnias and cornflowers and zinnias.) Stay tuned for updates!

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Another exciting update—we’ve expanded into the fashion industry! When harvesting garlic scapes one day, Julia and Will discovered that besides being a tasty treat, these fun curlicues can also double as chokers! Garlic scapes are the new black. We are currently pursuing a multi-million dollar deal with Gucci, so keep your eyes out for our FarmFresh 2017 fall line!

On the national level, Amazon has not yet approached us about going under their umbrella but we are expecting a call any day now. Until next time, peas.