Smithies take a Fieldtrip to Crimson and Clover Farm

8 Dec

ThCC logois fall semester, students from the ENV 100: Environment and Sustainability: Notes from the Field lecture course, loaded into vans for a fieldtrip to Crimson and Clover Farm. Located in Florence, MA, Crimson and Clover works closely with the Northampton Community Farm in an effort to sustain community based farming. On 40 acres, they primarily grow fruit, vegetables, and flowers for their Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA) and for nearby farmers markets. And thus—on a beautiful fall day—students toured Crimson and Clover with head farmer, Nate Frigard, exploring the open fields and greenhouses and learning about sustainable farming.

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Back in the Smith classroom, students were asked to write reflection papers incorporating their newfound knowledge. Many wrote about how CSA models benefit small farmers, addressing how Crimson and Clover survives by their steady 300+ CSA members. One student reported that “in the variable world of farming, CSA provides both the producer and consumer with predictability and stability while still providing a superior product and healing the land and communities.” Another student recognized CSAs as imperative for maintaining balanced, creative, and sustainable diets year-round. Further addressing Crimson and Clover’s year-round CSA, she maintained: “year round production of food does not mean tomatoes in January in Massachusetts or individual chip bags hanging on trees, but bounty in the summer so that members can preserve for the coming winter.”

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Alternatively, an international student from China offered a unique perspective. Addressing a recent experience she had at home, she reflected:

“This summer I went to my father’s hometown, a quiet village called XiaoXian in Anhui Province, China. I could not tell the differences in the village from my last visit ten years ago, but my father said there were some big changes going on right before my eyes. Land in rural China is owned by the government, not by individuals. After a reform in 1978, however, individual farmers were allocated lands for their own use. Today, lands are becoming cooperative once again, because young adults, who are supposed to be the main laborers in families nearly all leave for cities; those who are left behind are mainly the elders and children. Farmers no longer cultivate the land on their own and earn profits for their single household; instead, they work together. This pattern in China is similar to CSA in the States, for both of them invoke a sense of community and cooperation. They differ in that the Chinese farms still operate as a small part of the larger agriculture industry while in the U.S., the CSA makes itself a complete market. Instead of selling produce to an enormous market far away, to unknown customers, perhaps such collective farms in China could try to form a smaller, nearby market for themselves, like CSA farms in the U.S. After all, this was how agriculture worked in the old days. There are two obvious benefits of doing this: creating a tighter community and improving the food quality.”

These varied student reactions to the Crimson and Clover field trip remind us of the sense of community and the high-quality food desired across cultures and different backgrounds. They address the means by which we can, and are, creating reliable and small-scale food systems. A big thanks to Crimson and Clover for providing an educational day on the farm!

-CEEDS intern Odessa Aguirre is a senior at Smith College from Sonora, California. She studies Anthropology with a focus on immigration and Spanish. When she is not at Smith College, she is somewhere sunny and warm. Her future plans include backpacking in every feasible mountain range–and for the non-feasible mountain ranges, she has plans to train as a mountaineer.

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