A Field & Table Intensive at Green Mountain College
May 20 – August 16, 2013
On a mid-summer day, the sun rises pretty early over Green Mountain College’s Cerridwen Farm. That’s good – because there’s a lot of work to be done.
During GMC’s field and table intensive, students plow the fields, milk the cows, plant the crops and manage the community supported agriculture program. They take classes and conduct research on topics like organic agriculture and farm systems.
They also learn how to live differently. At the end of the day, dinner is about more than food: It's about coming together to cook, laugh and connect. The meal? It's made from produce harvested just down the gravel path from the dining table.
Field work weaves into class, which weaves into living. Together, the experience helps students understand how consumption is tied to production, allowing them to navigate complex front burner issues about energy, agriculture and sustainability. Students also leave with a new appreciation for community - how to build it and what it means.
The 13 week, 14 credit summer intensive program allows students to manage all elements of the farm’s operation while gaining a strong curricular foundation in sustainable agriculture. Four subject areas comprise the program's academic core:
Fundamentals of organic crop and animal management
Efficient integration and management of highly diverse farm systems
The social and cultural importance of regional foods.
Intensive skills development courses
Students gain the skills and knowledge for a range of careers. Some may start their own small-scale farms or homesteads. Others may decide to tackle policy issues, pursue advanced degrees or go to work for non-profit advocacy organizations. No matter the path, students end the summer with a new awareness of the meaning of food.
The campus farm is where students work, but it’s also what sustains them.
The goal during the 13-week summer program is to eat what is grown in the fields. No processing, no packaging - just fresh produce, eggs, honey, milk and meat. Daily life illustrates how a closed loop system works - a notion industrial agriculture makes blurry. At Cerridwen Farm, energy consumed from the farm gets converted into labor and sweat for the next round of production.
In their course work, students investigate the theory and practice of traditional culinary means of food preparation. Activities like bread baking, cheese making and canning and preserving food are explored from historical and cultural perspectives. Students work together and with the summer farm hands to produce nourishing and healthy communal meals.
During GMC's summer intensive, students don't just pass through on their way someplace else - they create bonds that last a lifetime. It happens over the course of many small moments: Gathering by the bonfire after a hard day of work, waking up at dawn to drive the oxen, and listening to the rush of the Poultney River next to the farm. Cerridwen Farm is a place small enough to nurture strong connections and good conversation. Here, students experience sustainable agriculture and sustainable community.