The very first weekend up in Maine, the whole Chewonki Semester School community worked together on the Salt Marsh Farm to harvest potatoes, onions, basil, and dry beans. That was our first collective taste of work program, which has become a vital part of everyday life at Chewonki. Whether we are stacking wood to heat the Wallace, feeding the sheep and collecting eggs, doing an energy audit on the (previously drafty) Ranch House, or blogging for all of you (as I am now), every student has had unforgettable moments during these times. Each student participates in work program twice a week, just after lunch. Half of us are in Tuesday’s group, while the other half is on Thursday, and the entire student body works on Wednesday. We all receive our assignments a little while before, and we split off into our groups. For most of us, work program was our first introduction to the farm and the Travelling Natural History Program, a starting place to bond with each other, and a great way to talk to faculty, who aren’t our classroom teachers. There is a bond that is earned for a group that works, learns, and lives together, and working is a great break from academics for a lot of us. I find that working my body along with my mind leads to a very satisfying day. Now no one has any excuse to get out of chores at home!
As a part of a small community, work program is a method for each individual to contribute to the well being of the campus. Work program is how we keep the Wallace heated, feed the farm animals, clear trails and repair bog bridges, and many other things necessary in our lives up in Maine. I have worked on the farm many times through work program, and those are some of the most influential moments I have had here. Our farmers are some of the most fun people to work with! Caitlin’s singing while working is inspiring, and the conversations I have had with Megan during work program have really given me a vivid picture of the function of our farm. I have never been so motivated to work as when I am weeding carrot beds with four other students, munching on one or two as we go. To our generation, the words “physical labor” seem like a warning – avoid at all costs. For those of us in Semester 49, we’ve learned that “physical labor” can be synonymous with a good time and a satisfying day.
-Josh Rinaldi, Naugatuck CT