Dorf Tirol is a village in the northern regions of Italy. There, a magnificent castle has rested for seven thousand years. It has been home to Boris de Rachewiltz, an Italian-Russian Egyptologist and writer, 20th century poet Ezra Pound, and, if only for a short while, Alison Putnam, a Green Mountain College student from Bennington, New Hampshire.
The Brunnenburg Farm and Museum program is a unique internship giving GMC students the chance to work, study and live at a 13th century castle in Italy. The program is a faculty-guided, four credit experience where students learn techniques behind sustainable agriculture that have been practiced for thousands of years.
Alison Putnam is now a GMC junior studying history and secondary education. She still recalls her experience in Italy as a first year student. “I was the only freshman in the group”, exclaims Alison, “it was...” Words seem to fall short when attempting to portray such a rich and luminous experience.
Agriculture and education now play a prominent role in Alison’s life and studies. Last summer she worked with other students and farm crew manager Kenneth Mulder to milk cows, grow plants and harvest crops for the benefit of the CSA. “The summer mostly consisted of harvesting and cultivating,” Alison said. As for her future in agriculture, Allison says she’s looking towards combining agriculture and education in any abstract or concrete form.
Though Alison’s energy seems to exceed that of the cartoon Roadrunner, maintaining an enthusiasm to spare and share seems to be no difficulty for her. In addition to her dedicated work within the field of agriculture and to the Cerridwen farm, she also spends her time working in Chartwells and introducing prospective GMC students as an admissions student tour guide.
Since high school, Alison has been working for a nonprofit garden organization The Cornucopia Project in New Hampshire during the summertime.
“They started with a tiny garden and a few kids after school to having five gardens and they serve kids in almost our entire school district.” The vegetables harvested go into school lunches as well as home to families of the students.
The experience has made a large impression on Alison, and she ends with this account:
“During the summer I worked with Southern New Hampshire Family Services [that] runs a summer program for a group of at-risk middle school kids in the town. They would come to the middle school twice a week and I’d work with them learning about veggies and nutrition. That was a good experience because it really made an impact on those kid’s lives, not having access to the best food in their homes. And they could take that back and share that knowledge with their parents. That’s the kind of thing I want to pursue.”
By Zachary Stark