Coming to Sewanee as an undergraduate student after spending the majority of my life in the shadow of the valley was - well - daunting. I don’t think that I’ll ever quite understand the feeling of abstract loneliness I possessed even while being within spitting distance of my childhood home down the Cowan side of the mountain. The location of “home” on my phone had changed to Johnson Hall and Sewanee campus, but I had never felt more put-off by a campus and the community surrounding me in my life.
As I was opening up a new college application like I did as a senior in high school to apply for a transfer, I realized that Sewanee would never be a home to me if I just kept trying to find ways to get away from it. The only campus-centered activity I was a part of was my work-study, which was being a Bonner Leader.
At the time, I would invest around six hours a week between the Coalmont Elementary Activ8 program and the University Farm. While I never connected with the kids at Coalmont, I did connect with the four-legged kids on the University Farm. I connected with the land that I knew had been around my entire life - this was the land that I would gaze out at during recess at South Middle School, learning to love the shape of the mountains just as much as I now love the linear shape of cleaned garden beds.
Coming into Easter Semester 2018, I was determined to find my home on campus, and the home I found was in the hands of the opportunities Bonner affords me. I started spending more of my time at the Farm, trying to scrape together what non-academic common sense I had to be a good University Farm employee.
I learned that when you don’t cut the lettuce right you’re going to end up spending three hours cleaning mold out of the garden beds with your bare hands, and when you don’t wear the right jacket in the bitter winter weather you’re going to regret getting out of bed in the morning. I learned that a high tunnel can just as easily be a year-round garden and a giant, fish-filled pond depending on how determined you are to make that happen.
I’ve learned that people need healthy food, people need the knowledge of how to grow healthy food, and people throw away valuable resources every day by not being aware of the health benefits of what is considered ‘a weed.’ I would like to say that I’ve learned more about myself harvesting and washing lettuce at 8:30 a.m. than I ever have meditating on a sunny afternoon.
The University Farm has afforded me the opportunity to get my hands in the dirt of the land I’ve always looked up to, and to know exactly where the lettuce I eat in McClurg is from. I’ve gained a respect for the work done every day by the Farm faculty, and strive to possess the same level of strong work ethic and positive attitude. I thank Bonner and the University Farm for providing me with a home that I’m glad to settle into for the next three years, working closely with people I consider role models and my Farm family.