- Simon's Rock Farm Deepens Roots
Lucy Van den Heuvel ’19 had never worked on a farm before Simon’s Rock. That’s not
entirely uncommon for the Rockers who help run the organic farm occupying nearly two
acres of campus. In addition to helping provide fresh produce for our community, the
Simon’s Rock Farm is a wellspring of research, education, and community engagement.
After taking a class focusing on agriculture and ecology—which involved learning organic
and regenerative farming practices and conducting research involving the land—Lucy
shifted her academic focus from visual arts and art history to environmental studies.
“I knew that I loved working outside, being in nature, and food,” said Lucy, now an
intern on the farm. “That class helped me realize the different ways my interests
coalesced around regenerative agriculture—it sparked my interest.”
Like Lucy, each of the Simon’s Rock students who become involved with the farm—whether
through science classes, community activities, clubs, or internships—approach farming
in their own way, whether they arrive with an extensive agricultural background or
none at all.
No experience is needed, for example, to join the Simon’s Rock Farm Club. Club members
work alongside a farm manager from the local nonprofit Greenagers and learn everything from crop seeding to land maintenance. Farm clubbers also make
visits to nearby farms in the Berkshires and go on foraging expeditions. Students
in the club work together to learn about and take care of the farm animals—which include
chickens and livestock—and harvest produce like broccoli, brussels sprouts, gourds,
grapes, squash, and hearty winter greens when it’s ready to be shared with the Dining
Rockers might also take on a farm internship, which is open to all students regardless
of age, experience, and ability. The interns’ focus, apart from helping oversee crop
production, upkeep, and acting as educational ambassadors to fellow students, is to
offer a safe and inclusive space for building community through land and food. According
to Lucy, the microcosm of the farm is “exemplary of the Simon’s Rock [ethos] of independence,
creative thinking, and transgressive education.”
The Simon's Rock Farm stand, typically held on campus each year.
This past year, the farm interns even lived together in a house on campus. Lucy noted
that the housemate experience has enabled the group to deepen their focus on developing
the farm as a sustainable and permanent fixture on campus.
In addition to the many ways that Simon’s Rock students engage with the farm, so too
does the surrounding community. The farm typically hosts a farm stand on campus each
year, which is open to students and residents in the area, and often provides fresh
food to groups that visit campus each summer. Through Greenagers and the Simon's Rock
Center for Food Studies, the farm is also a rich space for connection with our local neighbors through educational
events, programming, and youth outreach.
The Simon’s Rock Farm has evolved to serve a variety of campus-wide needs since the
early 2000s, and today’s student farmers are intent on growing its role as a source
of sustainable crop production, education, and communal bonds.
Learn More About the Simon's Rock Farm