Morning at The FARM
It is a landscape with barns and silos painted in sun and blue sky - a quiet pastoral scene.
The laying hens, in silent staccato steps, come out to peer as our host, Rob Goldfarb, FARM Institute's development director, appears with his dog, a Leonberger named Baloo.
The invitation is for breakfast, a walk about the year-round teaching farm in Katama, and a heaping offering of FARM-inspired conversation.
Photo by CK Wolfson
Mr. Goldfarb scrambles the eggs from the free-range hens, and stirs herb-seasoned sausage from one of the farm-raised pigs in the frying pan.
Some of the seven full-time staff members, all smiling and quietly purposeful, appear and disappear: development assistant Cathy Verost, business manager Crissy Kinsman, and Work Income Sharing Project (WISP) manager Kristin McDonald.
Joined by Sidney Morris, the soft-spoken new education director, we sit at the room-size worn yellow wooden table that in winter doubles for classroom use. Every so often, with a quiet air, Mr. Morris contributes a pithy idea: "Why not plant gardens on unbuildable lots?"
But it is Mr. Goldfarb, with his percolating enthusiasm, who holds court, offering lyric descriptions of the programs and the progress of FARM Institute.
In 2005, he left his work at a healthcare clinic in Guatemala to join his younger brother Matthew, the institute's executive director, and realize their shared dream on the 162-acre teaching farm.
Now, Rob Goldfarb is a man on a mission, and his delivery is passionate with clarity of purpose and moments of public relations rhetoric - "We're here to put the culture in agriculture" (his often usurped quote of Wendell Barry's).
After just over three years, there is much to tout: the renovation of the historic barn, a new greenhouse, the pre-school, the after-school student programs through fall and winter, the Saturday chores program, WISP - in which children grow, sell, and share profits of their produce - a summer camp that began with 140 children and last summer had an enrollment of more than 1,200, and in the main, the furthering of education and sustainable organic farming.
"Our main crop is education," Mr. Goldfarb says. "Why is it we do what we do?" he asks rhetorically, then tells the Broccoli Story, about how it takes 16 attempts to get children to eat broccoli, but when children plant it, pick it, have "a relationship with it," they'll eat it the first time it's offered. "We're trying to come up with outcomes to change behavior," he says, and with dramatic pause adds, "This will be the next generation of land stewards."
It is a March morning at The FARM, and led by Mr. Goldfarb, we walk through one of the quiet barns. He sees what will be as he looks at what is: the fallow field is the Friendship Garden, the empty class study stall bustles with activities.