Chewonki Semester School alumni are giving Farm Manager Megan Phillips and her year-round team of farmers a hand this summer: many are returning to work as farmhands for varying lengths of time during the growing season. They will be putting in long days—starting with morning chores at 5:45 a.m. and finishing at 5:00 p.m.—tending gardens and pastures. So far they have been transplanting seedlings to the new beds that campers will care for near their cabins; putting Reemay over young crops; picking rocks out of gardens—“They’ll be doing a little of everything,” says Megan. She sees their labor as “deepening their connection with this land” as well as pragmatic farmwork.
The current farmhands are Dina Alter (Semester 50), Elsie Jones (Semester 53), Emily Bruell (Semester 52), and Lulu Sollohub (Semester 54). Over the previous two weeks, Diana Grandas (Semester 53), Elly Thomas (Semester 54), and Casey Gaughan (Semester 54) worked alongside Dina. The other semester alumni who will be on the farm this summer are, Talia Isaacson (Semester 53), Peter Chapman (Semester 54), Lucy Kates (Semester 53), Lilly MacNeish (Semester 54), and Olivia Cameron (Semester 47).
Working on the farm for a whole day, day after day, is different from completing a two-hour stint at for Semester School work program. Sustained farm labor “presents realities and opportunities” for students, says Megan. Yes, they will be learning—but they will also be teaching, directly overseeing campers who choose to participate in Farm Activity.
The alumni farmhands, who live together in the Gate House with Megan, say that returning in the summer in a different role is an interesting facet to their relationship with Chewonki. They are contributing and building community in a new way. Megan calls their help “a gift.”
The farm has always been an important place of learning and labor. Its role in growing food for consumption on Chewonki Neck has grown in recent years; the farm now provides about 24 percent of all the food consumed in the dining hall.