Ben Dube '12
Hard at work
“I had a really weird realization not long ago,” says Junior Ben Dube. “I used to think that farming was this new thing I was going through, but I realized that it was drawing upon feelings that were always there—and then it made perfect sense.”
Ben had grown up in a rural area of central Massachusetts where he enjoyed his neighbors’ one-hundred acres of swamp and woods. He originally came to Vermont by attending UVM (University of Vermont) to study sociology, but found his interests leaning elsewhere.
“At UVM, I lived in a tight-knit environmental co-op. It was a wonderful experience; it was a lot of like-minded people connecting with their food and living sustainably,” he says. Those experiences inspired Ben to leave his collegiate life behind (temporarily) and take sustainable living to the next level.
“Dropping out of school was the best thing I’ve ever done,” Ben said through a grin. Over the next year and a half, Ben traveled all around the West Coast farming, gardening, and “WWOOFing”—working with World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, a loose network of national organizations which facilitate the placement of volunteers on organic farms.
This introduced Ben to the hands-on, experiential knowledge that would benefit him greatly in the future, but it also taught him something about himself. “I had never thought of myself as a hard worker until I got into doing farming,” he says. In light of this, Ben was ready to refocus on school, and how he found himself back to Vermont is somewhat coincidental.
Ben had worked on the farm of a friend who happened to be the PhD supervisor to Kenneth Mulder, GMC’s farm manager and assistant professor of environmental studies. Seeing Ben’s passion for small-scale yet diverse agricultural systems, it was recommended that he look into attending GMC and take part in its emerging sustainable agriculture program. Ben recounted his first visit to campus as a collection of fond memories.
“Right from the start, I got to work on the farm and see how things work,” he says. Ben began his studies at GMC and, since then, has been part of Cerridwen Farm’s continual progress. “The great thing about Cerridwen farm is that there’s a lot going on despite this being a small school,” Ben says.
In addition to that, Ben has worked on a project that aims to increase vegetable production using Microsoft’s EXCEL program—something he referred to as a game of “biological chess.” Last summer, Ben also participated in the farm’s intensive 12-credit program, a combination of research and hands-on farm work.
While getting a degree is an important goal for Ben, he’s got a few others on his list—literally. “I actually have my goals written down,” he says. “But they don’t include the ways I’m going to get them.” In short, Ben wants to spend his life doing “work that is physically and mentally challenging, work that is with animals, and work that is outside and good for his surrounding community.”
By Chad Skiles ‘12