One of the lesser known aspects of the college to those that have not attended Amherst College is that of the Book and Plow Farm. The school farm lives just past the bike path on the south side of campus and extends across over 40 acres. Book and Plow Farm serves many useful purposes for the members of the college and community including job opportunities, education, events, community resources, and food production.
Students are able to work on Book and Plow Farm during the school year and the summer. Employment opportunities during the school year are split between the seasons of fall and spring with each season requiring different tasks to help with production. The spring season is focused mostly on seeding and preparing the soil for the growing season while the fall focuses on harvesting and field clean up. The summer position details everything in between from caring for the plants and maintaining the fields. While this position keeps you busy throughout your shift, it is extremely fun and important for the school. I worked at the farm during fall 2020. Because of COVID safety restrictions at that time, I was not allowed to leave campus nor have many outlets for stress relief. I appreciated the opportunity to be away from campus and to get involved in something meaningful.
Book and Plow Farm is also a destination for some courses here at Amherst as well. This is because the farm practices and studies sustainability methods as well as teaching students about farming and food production. Alongside class field trips, the farm hosts several events throughout the year to allow students to take advantage of its resources and to enjoy the beautiful scenery that overlooks the woods and mountains. Some events include flower and produce picking, campfires, tie dye, and many more. Among these the most popular is Farm Fest. This festival takes place in the fall. Students, faculty, townspeople and the 5 college consortium students can attend to have delicious food and local ice cream as well as play minigames and get Amherst merchandise. It’s one of my favorite events every year because of how beautiful it is and all of the delicious food.
The farm has a membership program every late summer and early fall when harvest is going on that allows members of the community to pay a small fee and receive fresh produce every week. This fee benefits the farm but also allows us to share resources with the rest of the Amherst town. In addition to providing food to the community, the farm’s main purpose is to produce food for the college itself. The majority of the vegetables that we eat in our very own dining hall come from Book and Plow Farm and they’re always so delicious. It is truly an amazing feeling to know that the meals you are consuming every day come from just a short walk away and grown by those of your very same school.
The Book and Plow Farm is one of the amazing aspects of Amherst life that gives space to appreciate what living on a small campus is like. We receive so much from the farm and those that work there but it also allows us to take care of ourselves and the environment around us. I loved working at Book and Plow Farm so much and I intend to work there again this fall. I recommend taking advantage of the many resources available there but also doing your own part to promote and lead sustainable practices in your community.