Behind the Scenes: Farm Parties

Most students who are not a part of the Fairfield Farm Ecosystem and Adventure Team (FFEAT) may not often find an excuse to go to the school’s very own Fairfield Farm. However, the Farm Festival this past Sunday provided students with the perfect opportunity to do just that. Mrs. Sara Gibb, director of student activities, said, “[We want] students to think of the farm as an organic part of their Hotchkiss experience, as an extension of campus. [The party] is inclusive of the whole student body and of faculty and their families.”

Mrs. Gibb, Ms. Nancy Vaughan, wellness administrator, and Mr. Mike Webster, general manager of dining services, contributed to the extensive planning for the farm party. Ms. Vaughan helped decide that Sunday’s festival would include games for the students, such as pumpkin carving and scarecrow building. There were also opportunities for younger members of the community to have fun, such as hayrides and a corn husking competition. Mr. Webster was in charge of the food aspects of the event, and he made sure last weekend’s festival had treats such as local popcorn and apple cider pressed by FFEAT students. Mr. Webster said, “[The food at parties] is almost exclusively farm food: that is a big part of it.”

When there are parties with a more substantial demand for food, Mr. Webster and FFEAT members help prepare food alongside the dining hall staff. First, food is harvested by FFEAT members. Then, it is transported to the kitchen at main campus, where the dining staff helps prepare and serve it at the event space.

Some people overestimate the distance from campus and choose not to make the trip. In reality, however, the farm is only one mile away, and getting there only requires a short bus ride or walk. Ms. Vaughan said, “Issues [we face when planning farm events] include the distance of getting people back and forth. If in a group, students can walk the trails. People might get frustrated if they have to wait a few minutes for a bus, but a few buses will be running.”

Ms. Vaughan and Mrs. Gibb anticipate game nights with hot chocolate and other treats at the farm during the winter and a Spring festival on May 3 with farm-oriented activities. Through planning this event, Vaughan aimed to  bring students closer to the resources they have at their disposal and to help them find opportunities to take a break from schoolwork and relax. Ms. Vaughan said, “We want [students] to be able to get away for an hour or for however long they would like.”