Eli Redfern, Contributor
We at the Kenyon Farm were sorry to see that it took such an accidental misfortune to get some attention from folks up on the Hill. We feel as though the article published last week in the Collegian [“Kenyon Farm singed by fire,” April 3, 2014] made a representation of events that was not fair to us as an institution or as student farmers. Apart from the article’s various factual errors, we are most concerned with how this might damage the connections we are trying to establish with the wider Ken- yon community as one of its newest programs.
As we figure out what the Farm means as a shared and open space for students and what sort of role it will have within the community, poor representation of our character can only limit the bridges we can build in the future. By characterizing us as miscreants, an injustice was done to us and to the rest of the Kenyon community who now have a marred perception of what we have to offer.
I think it ought to be made clear that the Kenyon Farm embodies the liberal arts tradition in a deeper way than many of the other facets of life on the Hill can claim to. Agriculture can teach us about soil, plants and animals while drawing attention to the bio- logical, social and metaphysical questions that we would not otherwise ask.
For instance, this Saturday a handful of us took our turkeys to an Amish man’s farm to be butchered. After sharing a meal and conversation together with him and his family, we watched as he processed the first bird. Then, under his guidance, we each butchered one in turn. The rest of the afternoon he showed us his turkey operation, took buggy rides and tried some of his family’s favorite pies.
On the way back home, we discussed the history of the Anabaptist tradition as we looked over some of the religious pamphlets his wife had given us. Not only do we have a freezer full of turkey meat and a great story but also the knowledge and ability to take birds that we had raised and produce food. As someone who eats meat, I think it is important to be willing to deal with the physical, bloody implications of our food choices. So in many ways, we get to live the practical side of much of what we study in our classes, be it biology, history or ethics.
In addition to embodying the liberal arts tradition, the Kenyon Farm also has the potential to create new communities and new points of connection. We’ve reached out to farmers, gardeners and beekeepers in Gambier and Knox County who provide us with endless insights into the sorts of skills that we couldn’t otherwise learn from a book or online. Trips to the Danville Livestock Auction, the Farmers Co-op and other farms show us a side of Knox County that we wouldn’t otherwise see. We are shown what life in Central Ohio means for the people outside of our great Kenyon bubble. It is important for the Kenyon community to know that our Farm can be a great staging ground for the College’s sustainability efforts, and for the exploration of rural life.
But what we need now is energy, creativity and vigor. The Kenyon Farm is not the project of the five us living here; it is for anyone interested and motivated enough to work this great piece of land. We are always looking for people to start new projects, give us new ideas or just spend a few hours a week working alongside us. We currently have volunteer work hours Tuesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. and Saturday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m.
Last week’s article not only puts unnecessary distance between us and the rest of the Kenyon community but also does not do justice to the events surrounding the fire. I think it should be made known that James Karlin ’15, another student farmer, completely defeated the blaze with a fire extinguisher. He is a hero and I believe his great feat deserves thanks.
Eli Redfern ’16 is a Spanish literature and eco- nomics doube major from Athens, Ohio. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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