Katherine Pater

I am an ordained pastor (Presbyterian, PCUSA). I am originally from Wisconsin but also spent three years living in the Boston/Cambridge area during seminary. I have spent the last three years living with, learning from, and organizing alongside subsistence agriculturalists in El Salvador. After years of witnessing their struggles to survive and thrive, I now feel called to be part of the movement to change the harmful industrial and chemical-based agricultural practices that are adversely affecting them and other marginalized people around the world. I speak fluent Spanish, play the guitar very badly, and am looking forward to moving back to Massachusetts! 

Sophie Mendelson 

Late in high school I got it into my head that farming might represent the most fitting intersection of my love of food and the outdoors and I started reading everything I could about the “food movement.” Determined to test-drive my theory, I took a gap year before college in which I worked on a small goat dairy (State-side) and an agriturismo (in Italy). It stuck. In college, I worked for my university’s 1-acre urban farm and managed to cobble together something of a food systems major under the auspices of American Studies. I’m very interested in the ways a more flexible middle ground approach to agricultural (and, concurrently, consumer) practice might help create a more resilient food system. I’m also interested in the more flexible and inclusive political and social communities that might be needed to support such a shift. After graduating, I struggled to decide whether I wanted to do a formal training program or just try to learn while working, but a visit to the Farm School sold me—not only on the curriculum, but the community as well. Whatever the context in which I end up putting to use the skills I’ll learn this year, I hope it’s one in which I can find a similar sense of community.

Amber Bahn 

I’m originally from south-central PA where I graduated from Kutztown University with a degree in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education. Shortly after graduating, I moved to Australia for five years to work with a very unique program that takes 9th grade girls from a private city school out to a working farm in the middle of a National Park. The curriculum was entirely based on sustainability and environmental issues, and the community was completely off the grid. I have been back in the United States for the last three years in Connecticut where I have been working as Assistant Manager of Education and Hospitality at a seven-generation pick-your-own farm operation. I am looking forward to gaining the skills and hands-in-the-dirt experiences of actually running a farm to go along with the customer service, hospitality, and educational sides of farming that I have developed in the last seven years.

Abigail DeVries

 I’m 24 years old, the daughter of a missionary pastor from rural Illinois and a fierce enigma of a woman from West Virginia. I spent a rather unorthodox childhood hopping around the globe from “calling” to “calling,” mostly in Southeast Asia; returning every few years to a lovely little farm in Northwest Illinois that never seemed to change all that much.  Children remember the places, the smells, the fireflies that wait for them to get back from their adventures. 

Flash forward a few years – I found myself at a small Liberal arts college in Annapolis, Maryland, studying the classics, trying to puzzle out the meaning of things and my place in the world. As much as I loved being surrounded by big old books, and grand thoughts, I found that I missed being sweaty, tired, and hungry after a long day of working hard. I missed having dirt under my fingernails and calluses on my hands. I missed feeling like I had earned that meal, that shower, that pillow.

Since graduating with a degree in hand and a few pretty words in my head, I have been a baker, a commercial fisherwoman, a cook, a traveling sales person, a marketing agent, a bartender, a horse-barn mucker. I have lived in three states, six houses, a van, a tent, a boat and still there is a place waiting for me that hasn’t changed all that much, though maybe I have – a little. My hope is that the Learn to Farm program will give me the skills and confidence to return to that place in Illinois knowing that I have something to offer it too. 

Caitlin Sargent 

I come to farming, and the Farm School, via a background in geography, cartography and nature connection. I graduated from the Learn to Farm program in 2013, spent the next couple years working at the Farm School with students in the fields, and now, as a new mom, I work part time in the Farm School administration.