Farm Club aims to give back to the local community and raise awareness of food inequalities.
Many members of the Dartmouth community are more familiar with the student-run Farm Club as the lead organizer of the annual Dartmouth Harfest – an annual tradition at the O-Farm where students come together to enjoy the fall festivities and celebrate fall – but the student-run Farm Club does. much more.
The club supports programs ranging from beekeeping – where club members and the public collect honey and learn about bee colonies – to the Sugar Team, a school break program in which ten to twelve students help make maple syrup and learn about maple trees and ecology in the area.
Farm Club also operates several programs that give back to the community by distributing the products of the O-Farm itself. Farm Club member Lucas Rathgeb ’22 detailed these initiatives, including the “Moms in Recovery” program, a community-supported farming program in which O-Farm partners with Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center to provide vegetables. costs for mothers recovering from addiction.
“We also work with Willing Hands and from time to time the Farm Club will go and cook dinners at Upper Valley Haven and White River Junction,” said Rathgeb. “We are also helping with the Student Pantry and Dick’s House by ensuring that students during breaks can get consistent meals when Dartmouth Dining is not operating at full capacity.”
Willing Hands, one of the organizations the Farm Club sends products to, is a food distribution organization that delivers food to sites in the Upper Valley. Willing Hands program coordinator Sara Cavin said the organization started out as a one-man operation, but now serves more than 80 beneficiary sites.
“The way Willing Hands started was with a Hanover Co-op employee who noticed a lot of still decent products leaving the store and going in the trash,” Cavin said. “With the Co-op’s blessing, he started bringing it to Upper Valley Haven – one of the area’s largest food shelves – and a few other recipient sites, and it grew from there.”
Cavin also explained the goals of Willing Hands.
“This is the premise of Willing Hands – we want to make sure that we are fighting hunger in the region and improving the diets of people who generally cannot afford this healthy, fresh food that would otherwise be wasted,” he said. declared Cavin.
The Farm Club provides one-third of all the produce they grow to both Willing Hands and the “Moms in Recovery” program – this is part of the club’s “three-thirds cultivation model”. The second third of the proceeds is used to feed volunteers and club members at community development events at O-Farm. The last third is used to generate income for the club itself through a student-run farm stand or is sent to the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge and campus dining halls.
When asked about the Farm Club’s transition from a virtual school year, O-Farm principal Laura Braasch noted that Harfest was one of the ways in which students could come back and fully celebrate a previously limited space.
“Now we see the farm as an opportunity to organize in-person events and gatherings, which is a real blessing as the students can now take full advantage of the space,” said Braasch.
Rathgeb echoed Braasch’s sentiments.
“Now that the restrictions are a little less severe, we are able to fill a van for full working days, which is very helpful on the farm to get more people out there and get our hands on the land and get the work that needs to be done and the learning that we want to happen to happen, ”said Rathgeb. “It has been really great for us to open this save in this way.”
Rathgeb said they hope this community spirit will continue into the future so that Farm Club can be a space for people to rethink sustainability and nutrition.
“[Farm Club is] also to provide a space for people to think about the implications of food inequality and food sovereignty, all of those different things that come into play when we think about the politics and culture surrounding food, ”they said. . “That the Farm Club is a space for all of these things is really my hope for the Farm Club in the future. ”