Dickinson College Farm
the dirt '08

Dickinson Students Need the Farm: They Just Don't Know it

Curtis Lentz '10

As I walk up the gravel road, taking in the rolling hills in front of me, the smell of fresh air and the distinct odor of compost, I am able to think deeper, even clearer than I could ever have within the confines of the Library walls. The outdoors is a place for people to return to their true roots. It's an opening into who we are as human beings, where we came from and most importantly where we're going.

I grew up spending every waking hour in the outdoors, a luxury that many people don't have. This connection that I established with the outdoors at such a young age translates directly into my life today. My passion for the environment and the outdoors was set in motion well before I knew the words sustainability and organic. There was something innate about my love for the outdoors and my concern with always having it around me. My parents did not preach to me about the importance of the outdoors nor did they ever force me to immerse myself in the natural world. Something that was already hard wired in my brain, in my spirit, at birth simply told me that I belonged out there. I belonged in nature not as an intruder but as another piece of the complex puzzle of the environment.

I firmly believe that if everyone in the world had similar experiences as I have had in the outdoors than global warming would not be a debated topic. As societies move farther and farther away from their connection to the natural world, human beings begin to loose sight of the importance of the outdoors. I am not suggesting that if every child in the United States was taken on a weekend hiking trip that they would all grow up with environmentalism in the forefront of their concerns. However, I am arguing that it is important for every person to have a place to go that will allow them, if they feel the need, to immerse themselves in nature, to feel that innate bond. The campus farm provides students at Dickinson College the perfect outlet for this desire. Not only does it provide students the opportunity to settle their need for a connection to the natural world but also plays a "lead by example" role within the Dickinson and Carlisle communities. In the short time that I have had the privilege of working on the farm I have seen subtle, yet promising changes within the Dickinson community. The most prevalent example is student's willingness to compost. From the beginning of the year to the time that the school purchased the new pulper, the amount of compost increased. Student no longer thought that composting was "un-cool" or that the three seconds extra it took to scrape their plate just wasn't worth it. Recently a student that had volunteered at the farm for only one day, earning community service hours for his fraternity, called me the very next day asking to come back and bring a friend this time. When I asked him why he liked working at the farm so much he responded by telling me he grew up in New York City and was never exposed to an environment like the campus farm. After his first day he said that he would like to volunteer as much as he could.

It is such stories that lend themselves to the theory that everyone has a need to connect to the outdoors. It is simply a matter of making it available to them and that is exactly what the Dickinson College Farm does.