The New Faces Presiding Over Fairfield Farm



Students enjoy volunteering at the Fairfield Farm during Eco Day in April.

Did you pick potatoes during new-student orientation? Have you ever been on a hike to Fairfield Farm? Then chances are you have come across the many people who help the Farm run smoothly. This year, that team has been joined by two new faculty members – Ms. Bridget Lawrence-Meigs and Ms. Amy Sidran.

Ms. Lawrence-Meigs will begin work on May 17 as the new Farm Manager, a position previously held by Ellie Youngblood ’10. Ms. Lawrence-Meigs worked as the director of the farm at Stonehill College in North Easton, Massachusetts for ten years. She taught classes on social justice, sustainability, and climate change, as well as managing the day-to-day operations of the farm. 

Ms. Lawrence-Meigs expressed excitement about sparking young people’s interest in farming. She said, “I see farming at a campus to be about connecting people with where their food is grown, and [creating] opportunities for people to work together.” The school hopes that in her new role, Ms. Lawrence-Meigs will facilitate more opportunities for the community to engage with the Farm. Mr. Joshua Hahn, assistant head of school and director of strategic initiatives said, “We are most excited about Bridget’s history of managing volunteers and energizing many people to get out onto the Farm, even if they aren’t part of a formal program like FFEAT or the Food Systems class.”

Ms. Sidran joined the faculty last August as the Fairfield Farm Education Coordinator. Since then, she has been helping to lead the co-curricular Fairfield Farm Exploration and Adventure Team (FFEAT) with Mr. Chris Oostenink, instructor in environmental science, and Ms. Amanda McClure, associate dean of community life and instructor in humanities. Students involved in FFEAT work on the farm five days a week, playing an important role in the farm’s produce production. Ms. Sidran has also developed a new upper-level elective in the Humanities & Social Sciences department – SS458F: “Sustainable Food Systems” – which will be offered in the 2021-2022 school year in both the fall and spring semesters. The course will utilise the farm and Dining Hall in its exploration of the connections between public health, social justice, the environment, and the economy. 

Ms. Sidran also collaborates with Mr. Mike Webster, general manager of Dining Services, to facilitate the farm’s contributions to the Dining Hall. In normal years, the 287-acre farm provides 30% of the Dining Hall’s produce during the fall and 7% of the annual produce. This year, however, the Fairfield Farm and Food page said, “The 2020 farming season faced many challenges as a result of COVID-19 closures [and] drought, uncertainty about the dining program’s demands, and a lack of student worker support during the spring and summer.” In response to these challenges, Ms. Sidran decided to reduce acreage for vegetables and utilize a no-tillage cropping system in order to improve soil quality.

This year marks the first that both Farm Manager and Fairfield Farm Education Coordinator will be full-time positions. Ms. Sidran said, “I am looking forward to collaborating with Ms. Lawrence-Meigs around sustainable farming, food justice, and building community through food. We are both very passionate and I believe that we will be able to create an incredible community around Fairfield Farm.”