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137025_16_32:features 20-27 1/23/12 7:58 AM Page 16 Teaching Healthy Habits Up on the [Hotchkiss] Farm: Growing a New Kind of Education A few rules apply when you’re wandering around the Hotchkiss Farm – still known formally as Fairfield Farms – but the most important is to close the gates behind you. The 280-acre School property off Route 41, where open meadows are dotted by clumps of white oak, hickory and maple trees, is home to some 50 head of cattle – a benign and shaggy-coated mix of Devon, Devon-cross, and Hereford and Hereford-crosses that belong to local farmer Allen Cockerline. Poised between Lakeville and Sharon, 260 acres of this gorgeously diverse blend of forest, wetlands, upland fields, and pasture were acquired by Hotchkiss in 2004, a generous partial gift from Jack Blum ’47, a former trustee, and his wife, Jeanne, who raised Black Angus cattle here for 27 years. In 2010 the School purchased the remaining 17 acres, a tract that included the Blum family’s stately, white-columned home and three sturdy outbuildings. With dramatic views of the iconic twin oaks beloved of local painters and the Taconic hills cascading north to Massachusetts, the farm is a spectacular setting for events such as the annual Prep for the Planet day, held for the third time in September 2011 and inspired by Head of School Malcolm McKenzie’s remark, several years ago, that “Prep for college is vital, but prep for the planet is a more compelling matter, a matter of survival.” B 16 H O T C H K I S S M Y A G A Z I N E D I V Y A For Hotchkiss preps, it’s an opportunity to spend a day outside picking apples, beans, and squash, digging potatoes, clearing trails, and in general experiencing a place that’s becoming a pivotal part of Hotchkiss life. “We’re getting better every year,” said Josh Hahn, assistant head of school and director of environmental initiatives. “We’re more organized. We have more crops, so the diversity of the produce is better. And these kids are discovering where their food comes from, how it’s processed, and where it goes. ” “I think today, especially, it’s really important to be able to grow food locally in an organic way,” said Maude Quinn ’15. “And I think it’s really cool to be out here and know that Hotchkiss is part of something like this.” About eight tons of potatoes were harvested from the Farm this fall, which is almost half the estimated 20 tons consumed in the Hotchkiss Dining Hall during a typical academic year. Students, faculty, and staff have been feasting on squash and fresh greens, tomatoes and an impressive variety of other vegetables planted, tended, picked, and even pickled, by members of FFEAT (Fairfield Farms Ecosystems and Adventure Team) and six hardworking farm interns. Thanks to an agreement with the School’s food service company as well as contracts with a pair of humane, FDA-approved slaughterhouses in Connecticut and Massachusetts, an estimated 600 organic free-range chickens raised on the farm will S Y M M E R S

Hotchkiss Magazine: Fairfield Farm and Food

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