This felt like a full and wonderful year for Treleven. Many ideas –some old, and some new—came to fruition and there were activities all year long.
Sojourning friends (and strangers who are now friends) brought a wonderful sense of vibrancy to the farm. Board Members John and Rita Elder stayed in the Annex early in the winter while their new net-zero energy home in Bristol was being completed. From their many ideas emerged the building of a labyrinth, which people now walk in meditation on a near-daily basis. Talis Thorndike-Love came to the farm at the beginning of lambing season and now lives with Ethan and Susannah. Andrew Baker, a Brooklyn-based filmmaker, rented the Annex for periods during March and April and made a documentary about Don, the sheep and this year’s lambing season. Having Andrew on the farm and working on this film project catalyzed the Board’s decision to create a program of Treleven-sponsored Creative Residencies. Anna Mullen, the first person to be competitively selected for one of these residencies, spent five weeks during late fall living on the farm in order to observe and write about the flock of sheep from multiple perspectives. Other individuals who rented the Annex for their own purposes at different times during the year have made a growing contribution to our understanding of what a creative residency might entail: One person completed a book-length poetry manuscript, another is writing about education, and another taught us about building deeper connections with the community through her work as a substitute staff member at Porter Hospital.
Based on these experiences, the board will be offering two month-long, rent-free residencies each year. We are trying to find the right balance between longer term renters, sponsored residents, and the shorter workshops, classes, and tours that also take place at the farm under Treleven’s sponsorship.
Speaking of workshops, this year’s highlight was, once again, the Narrative Therapy Master Class arranged by Peggy Sax and taught by Sue Ellen Hamkin, which beautifully integrated the environment of the farm with work on healing approaches to issues in mental health. For the first time, the celebratory potluck and bonfire to be held at the pond as part of this event was not rained out! Kirk Webster brought his 40 students of apiculture here for a hands-on beekeeping workshop. Emma Stultz (a UVM student) shared a conservation walk with Don as part of the New Haven Conservation Commission’s PLACE Program. Treleven is the co-sponsor of two interview shows for Middlebury Community Television: Faces of Farming and Growing Bright Futures.
A dozen of Middlebury College’s current first-year students spent their orientation weekend here, and our wonderful relationship with the college’s summer Food Works program continued to flourish. Emma Homans, our summer intern this year, participated in all aspects of the farm and helped to connect us more closely with the Parent/Child Center in Middlebury. During the coming year she will be helping to coordinate the volunteers who love to assist in the barn during lambing season. As part of a conference in Rutland sponsored by UVM’s Extension Service, Don and Cheryl taught an agro-tourism workshop on welcoming visitors onto your farm. We were less successful this year in marketing NOFA’s Open Farm Week, our own Treleven summer Nature Camp, and a pasture management workshop sponsored by the Vermont Sheep and Goat Association…but all of these events did take place with at least some attendees.
We continue to love the ways the Board operates, benefits from the interests and expertise of its members, remains mindful of the connections between spirit, nature and social justice, and enjoys working and dreaming together.