At the farm right now, everything is just beginning. Work has kicked into gear, and the late rain and late frost has made extra work for the farm crew. At the same time, I am here at the end of my undergraduate education, looking forward to graduation in just a few days.
Many things are coming to a close. Just last week we had a wonderful party out at LaFarm and it seemed like the end of an era. As a budding social historian, I would lay out the history of our modest acres at the close of its second epoch: First, there were the Jenn Bell years. A time of fighting to establish a small plot for a big future, led mainly by Jenn herself, with the support of Profs like Wilson, Kney, and others. Then came this new era. Sarah was first hired for my first summer, and has done an amazing job leading us to the point we are today. New professors like Cohen and Lawrence as well as those more tenured like Brandes, Germanoski and others have contributed greatly to linking the college and the farm. And the environmental movement on campus has been burgeoning under the leadership of my many dedicated colleagues like Alexa Gatti, Peter Todaro, Miranda Wilcha, and countless others from the class of 2016 (including, I daresay, myself at times.) And now, we stand on a precipice, gazing into the next chapter. A wellspring of undergraduate support has burst forth as those of us in the class of 2016 prepare to finally depart; I believe there will be a great presence here to fill our shoes.
At the party last week, never had this seemed more obvious. Looking out over the surrounding acres and considering our plans for the future. Peter and I being “punk’d” by Sarah with memorial speeches as we get ready to pass off our torches (luckily, Peter will have a bit of extra time here as President of LaFFCo next semester.) Talking to the many wonderful underclassmen who have made the last few years possible. Everyone talking over what they’re going to do next, here, abroad, and everywhere in between. Discussing the past, the present, and the future over delicious homemade food, much of it as local as possible. The spirit of Spring has never been better embodied in one afternoon.
This time really is the end of an era, for the farm, for me, and for the whole graduating class I’m sure. While here, I’ve toiled with the soil alongside Sarah and my many other co-workers; I’ve learned a huge amount about greenhouses, fought for one, and now LaFarm will finally be getting one; I’ve read, I’ve written, I’ve explored academic disciplines and social movements and become part of both. Peter and I started a club to make sure support for the farm continues, we’ve gone to the sustainability committee meetings to make sure our voices were heard, everyone in the Lafayette environmental community has fought tooth and nail to finally hire a sustainability coordinator, we’ve attended workshops and we’ve led them (including one coming up this Friday at NHCC) we’ve gone to countless conferences, and I’ve even presented at two of them! I have never felt more connected to a piece of land than I do to our humble acres at LaFarm. I’ve worked out there every summer since 2013, and the thought of not being there for this year is the most shocking part of graduating.
But endings are also beginnings! The beginning of the season, and the beginning of the next era for us all. The new wave of students is taking up our mantle, the farm is finally realizing some changes that have been long coming, and the sustainability coordinator is on the way for this summer (though I won’t say I’m not sour over not having one this semester, which we were promised.)
And for me, I am going to manage some land myself. A few acres in Maryland owned by some friends of mine need to brought under sustainable cultivation to help support humans and insects alike (boy am I glad I took those beekeeping classes this last semester!) And by the end of the year, I’ll be in Sicily, WWOOFing and finally visiting my family on the other side of the Atlantic.
After that, I have a few options that I’m keeping open. But all of them are only available (or even appealing!) because of the tremendous help I’ve received from everyone at Lafayette and the amazing work I’ve had the opportunity to do here. I must say, while it is bittersweet, I am happy to say I’ve come to the end of this era, because the next one is looking very appealing.
The most sincere thanks to all of you, and all of my best for the future! Working together, we can make this world better, one acre at a time.
Joseph Ingrao, graduating EXCEL Scholar Spring 2016