From a Farm Resident

Emily Neuman lived at the farm the fall and spring of her junior year, as well as winter and spring term of her senior year. She says it is by far the best place she has lived while at Dartmouth.

Jeannine: Why do you characterize the farm as being the best living experience for you here?
Emily: One of the nicest things about it is that when you leave campus at night, you know that you're going somewhere peaceful and quiet and the trip home is just a sigh of relief. Also, I've had to structure my days very differently than when I lived on campus or off campus but still in town. Because I bike to campus (well in the fall and spring), I spend my days here and then try to get home before dark, for dinner. It's a wonderful break from the hectic routine of campus life.

J: What initially attracted you to the farm?
E: I'm from a rural part of Iowa, but farming was not something I thought about as a possible career choice for myself until I came here. The farm was tied into the ESD, which is how I found out about it, and it was also a reminder of home. I found it to be a good mix of my interests in the environment and biology. Also, being in New England and seeing the kind of farming done at the Organic Farm really changed my perceptions of farming. There's a enormous difference between small New England farms and the agri-business I grew up surrounded by.

J: How did living at the farm alter your campus life?
E: The farm really takes over. Which is a good thing. I think we all spread ourselves too thin here so it was important for me to settle into one thing that I could devote myself to. To get the most out of living there, I found that I had to be willing to let myself go, and give up some aspects of campus life. Besides which, I have strong friendships at the farm, and that has been key in making my experience there a positive one.

J: What are some of the positive aspects and the drawbacks to living at the farm?
E: You can't ignore that it is absolutely beautiful; you have the biggest front yard around, with the fields and the river and oak hill right nearby. Plus, being on a farm, in the springtime especially, there's something about waking up in the morning and looking out at it that draws you outside and makes you want to work in the field. These are brown-eyed susans that I grew myself.
But there is more to the Organic Farm than just being a beautiful site three miles away from campus. It is a special place because of the people connected to it. The Farm seems to draw the most wonderful people. Living at the Farm, you are the primary caretaker of the special place around which those people gather. It's important for us living in the house to make people feel welcome at the Farm and in the farmhouse, to make them feel that it's just as much their home as ours. The farm is physically my home, but I think that for a lot of other people, because of the work they do there, it is a place that their spirit connects to, which makes it a home for them also.
One drawback might be that since only three or four people can live there, it can sometimes feel isolated. But conversely, this can allow you to create your own space and disconnect yourself.

J: Do you think that living at the farm has created any new concsiousness about the environment?
E: Well, even before coming to Dartmouth, I'd developed a strong sense of environmentalism. The Farm has certainly raised my awareness about the huge environmental impacts of food production. I think that most individuals probably make their biggest impact on the environment through their food choices. Learning about the food system has made me realize how complex environmental issues are. It's so difficult to make a completely "good" decision. There are always complexities.

J: Do you think you'll be thinking of continuing farming in some way after Dartmouth?
E: Actually, I'm planning on being an apprentice on farms for the next few years. And sometime in the future, I don't know where or what kind of crops, I'd like to farm because I know the lifestyle is suitable to me. So, yes. Yes.

Look at some of Emily's pictures from the farm.

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