Day 2- Land Use Past and Present

15 Jan

Today’s class began with an extended drive to the Field Station.  Professor Jesse Bellemare led us to a “secret” spot in East Whately (the Whately Industrial Park!).  There we talked about what had taken place on that land and in the area historically. The Industrial Park is situated on the Connecticut River Flood Plain, and we had views of tobacco barns and Mount Sugarloaf. Jesse described the local human history from 12,000 years ago to the present day.  It was exciting to think about Native peoples hunting mega fauna like woolly mammoths in our little Valley.

As we arrived at MacLeish, Jesse explained that the Field Station land was settled by Europeans later than the river valley as a result of conflicts between the Native peoples (and their French allies) and the English settlers. The need to wall off their communities made the hills inhospitable for the settlers. We walked to an abandoned farmhouse foundation where we talked about the challenges the Europeans faced after they had forced the Natives back and began settling in the hills.

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After a lunch of chocolate, we shared our learnings and wonderings that arose from the morning. Our discussion centered on how we could use the microcosm of the Field Station to talk about historic and contemporary shifts in land use and the ways in which the burdens of industrial food production are currently distributed. We then did a map-making activity and realized the perspectives in map making.

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We finished the afternoon with a discussion of our plans for Friday. After another day of exploring different ways of seeing the world around us we are getting more and more excited to share the Field Station with the 6th-graders!

– Claire Adams, ’16 (American studies major; landscape studies minor) and Julia Graham ’16, (Latin American studies major; sustainable food concentrator)

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