I left Compass Rose in a gunnysack dress I had found with Kateen in town. It seemed like the right funky and formal thing to be wearing while saying a goodbye I didn’t quite want to. I was heading to a new job in San Francisco, but taking an ambling week to get there. Being on the farm had definitely calmed my Type-A personality. I had no real itinerary, other than a faint wish to see Crater Lake. It’s been three years now and although much has changed, I continue to explore (recent highlights include Big Sur, Point Reyes, Santiago, New York City, and the North Shore) all the while trying to remind myself of the me that left the farm; so self-assured and open-minded.On more of a measurable skills level, I was also able to commandeer a garden plot in the city where I employed a hefty amount of my Compass Rose education. I planted fava beans to enrich the soil, next season growing delicious basil, thyme, purple lettuce, and heirloom tomatoes. I sprinkled the plot with cosmos, zinnias, and rue for myself and the butterflies. And I turned our compost like nobody’s business.
I spent six weeks with the Dirt Rich School at Compass Rose Farms in 2014 between my first and second year of college. I was nineteen, and it was my first time traveling away from home for an extended period of time by myself. Looking back, my time at the farm was integral to my development as a person and in deciding my path in life. At Compass Rose, I learned not only how to care for the land and animals, but I came to understand what it means to be connected to nature and live life simply. These are lessons that I continue to incorporate into my life today.
I am a student at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY where I study Biology and Environmental Studies. When I am not in class or rehearsing with the contemporary dance group that I am a part of, I manage to get my fix of farming and gardening. The fall after my time at the Dirt Rich School, I worked as a crewmember at Common Thread Community Farm in Madison, NY. During the fall semester of 2015, I worked as an intern at the Colgate University Community Garden. Through these experiences, I have had the opportunity to foster relationships between people and the land that produces our food.
I spent the last few months studying coastal ecology, natural resource management, and Kiswahili in Zanzibar, Tanzania. It was fascinating to see how people in another culture use and value their land. Currently, I am thrilled to be interning at Journey’s End Refugee Services in Buffalo, NY as part of a program called Green Shoots for New Americans. The goal of the program is to teach recent refugees the farming and gardening skills that they need to grow and sell their own vegetables. I love this work because it is based on the idea that teaching others to grow vegetables can be used as a tool for positive social change and empowerment. In the future, I am hoping to pursue graduate-level work in environmental policy or law. I want to work to ensure that all people—regardless of socioeconomic class, race, or the generation they are born into—have access to the land and resources that they need to live a good and healthy life.
I am extremely grateful for the skills and lessons that Kateen and everyone at Compass Rose Farms shared with me. I will never forget the time that Kateen took a few interns out to lunch and, over crème brûlée, told us that we were capable of doing anything that we set our minds to. She told us that all we needed to accomplish something was the desire and a few good books. I hope to continue to apply and pass down the wisdom that I learned at the farm throughout my life.
I am truly grateful for everything that you did for me. Please say hello to everyone at the farm for me! Best of luck to you in all of your ventures!