Post Fall Blog

by Sherrie Kelly

Last spring, I was part of a group of eight students that paved the way for an ongoing Sustainability program here at St. Lawrence University. We were the first to sleep in these beds, to learn in the classroom, and introduce pigs and chickens to the land. This summer, a few interns stayed to develop the garden, and grow food for the next year. Now, we are on a new adventure. An almost entirely new group of people has entered the house, but this time it’s a little different. While we farm, cook, and live here, all our classes and activities reside four miles away on campus. In these first four weeks, it’s been hard to find a perfect balance. How do we switch every day between dewy fields and the lunch rush at Dana? Or between carefully reducing our waste, to watching the mounds of garbage build up in the Student Center?

The truth is, there is a beautiful peace about coming home after a day on campus. After classes, to be able to return to the same faces, who ask about your day; to lie in the grass and listen to the crickets, to visit the pigs and let them nuzzle your hand, and to watch the chickens dig through the dirt. It’s a different world out here; one where we’re surrounded by fields and forest rather than people and buildings.

I brought a friend from campus to the house this week who hadn’t been here before. I pulled her around showing her my favorite spots; I made her look at all the food in the fridge, had her help me collect eggs from the chicken coop, and lead her through the back fields and down to the river. This was the first time my two worlds had truly connected, where part of my campus life was finally meeting my life at the sustainability house. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized how proud I was of this house. I wanted her to understand our world out here, and to love it just as much as I do.

This week I was on chore duty. Every morning I woke up early to feed the animals before heading to classes on campus. In the evening after I’d returned home, I’d make my rounds again, feeding and collecting eggs. This week I truly found my balance between campus life, and life out here. Instead of waking up and rushing to classes, I spent the first half hour of every day outside, breathing in the dewy air, and listening to the first birdcalls.

The leaves have changed ever so slightly every day, from green to striking oranges, reds, and yellows. The pigs seemed to grow every time I fed them, and as the week progressed, the chickens went from producing twenty eggs a day, to twenty-four. When classes begin, and the stress of homework starts to lie heavily on our shoulders, it’s hard to remember that the natural world is continuously changing around us. When we’re stuck in the library, it’s hard to value the earth and remember to practice sustainability. This house and this community are our constant reminders.

This balance between two different worlds, that seemed so daunting when we first arrived, has now developed into a routine. Our home and our new little family keep us grounded to the natural world as we go through the week.  Every night we return to a home cooked meal, to people studying in the kitchen, and to Olivia playing her ukulele to the pigs. Our college experience has finally been brought back to the natural world.

~Zelie Wright-Neil