Starting in May, my good friend MJ began her farming apprenticeship at Solstice Hill Farm in Cobleskill, New York. MJ was frustrated with the progress (or lack thereof) she was making here at Tufts, where she was pursuing a degree in philosophy. Originally from Boulder, CO, and a lover of the outdoors and enchanted with the idea of a simpler lifestyle, she made a radical decision and moved up to lovely middle-of-nowhere New York to work in return for food and shelter (WWOOFing). Her apprenticeship was only supposed to last the summer, but she was enjoying herself so much that she took the semester off and worked through the harvest season, even getting to make a little money in the process. Last Thursday, my friend Melissa and I ventured 4.5 hours west to this fledgling farm to retrieve MJ from her 6-month adventure and bring her back to Tufts for 10 days before she returns home to Colorado.
I talked to her a few times during those 6 months and every time she was absolutely exhilarated about her experience on the farm. For 6 months it was just her, the landowner Clemens, and another apprentice Kelly, and as MJ told me, “They were my best friends for those 6 months… I’ve spent more time with them during this time than I have with my family in over 10 years.” MJ could not stop gushing about “the farm” as it affectionately became known. She kept telling me how beautiful it was, how amazing the land was, how much she had learned, how much she had grown as a person. And the one thing that she continued to repeat was how much she learned during her time there. As she has reminded me several times, she now has the power to go anywhere and feel confident that she can go support herself on this skill set. Pretty amazing. So when Melissa told me she was going up, I jumped at the opportunity to meet the land and people who had taken care of MJ.
Leaving at 8 Thursday night, there wasn’t much to look at in the darkness that engulfs western Massachusetts and upstate New York. But as Melissa and I got closer to the farm at around 11 pm, a heavy fog started rolling in. By the time we got off the highway it was as thick as soup. We spent the last 30 minutes driving slowly through the fog, not having the faintest clue where we were (It was only when we woke up the next morning that we would be allowed to glimpse the stunning scenery). We turned up a steep road and were soon bouncing along slowly through the fog over rocks and mud, passing old cars being consumed by vegetation and generally wondering where we were being taken.
The farm is on top of a hill. The farmhouse itself, built by Clemens parents and added to throughout the years, is at the end of the road and preceded by a small chicken coop, which by night looked like a terrifying, creepy old shed. Behind the house the mountain slopes steeply downward and is covered in natural forest. To the right are the fields and the greenhouse. But enough describing, that’s why I took 5 rolls of film worth of pictures during my less-than 24 hour stay.
The Farm is a photo goldmine. Everywhere I turned there was a picture just waiting to be taken. Alas I had limited supplies in the form of half a roll of B&W 35mm, a full color 35mm roll, and 2 rolls of 120 B&W for the Mamiya. The color film has yet to be developed, so I will post those when I get them scanned in. But I was just too excited about these photos not to share them.
Huge shout-out to Clemens, for running a badass (and entirely organic!!!) farm and for taking care of MJ and for housing Melissa and I for the night. Also big ups to Kelly cause she’s goddam hysterical and an awesome person (or at least that’s what I gathered from hanging out with her for half a day).
Overall it was an awesome trip and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see the Farm and the surrounding countryside – it is truly beautiful.