The Hotchkiss School’s co-curricular farm program started out with a few curious student pioneers in 2008. These students, who had opted not to join a traditional team activity, met at the school farm five afternoons a week. They cleared trails, learned to identify birds and plants, and harvested a few crops under the supervision of Charlie Noyes, the farm’s program coordinator. Few people outside this small troop knew of the farm’s existence at the time, and little food made it to the school’s kitchen.
Five years later, Fairfield Farm is a vital component of an expanding environmental focus. This fall, the school is breaking ground on a new teaching facility on the farm dedicated to food storage and preparation. Noyes says he expects his team will harvest 18 tons of produce and meat from the farm for the school dining service, with the help of a robust student co-curricular squad, hundreds of volunteers, a farm manager, and an assistant head for environmental initiatives.
Hotchkiss is also incorporating the farm in the curriculum. All ninth graders will gather at the farm for work and reflection over two half-days. All students will find more of their lessons and projects in English, philosophy, visual art, science, math, and history classes based at the farm and inspired by farm work.
School leaders, including Noyes, are working to find fresh ways for the farm to maintain relevance and meaning for individual students and the school at-large well into the future.