We hope all students leave Putney with a deeper connection to the land. Using a field or garden as a classroom encourages many discussions about various agricultural techniques, providing a real illustration of varying methods of food production.
The Putney School Farm and Land Use program currently involves over sixty students, (more than a third of the student body) each semester. The students are engaged in all aspects of the diversified farm, including milking and caring for dairy cattle, forage crop production, gardening, other livestock care, sugaring and fire wood processing.
In the spring, students in the garden afternoon activity plant seeds in the greenhouse. In the fall, students harvest and preserve what they, and other students, have grown.
The garden program includes three acres of land and two greenhouses. Our goal is to grow a significant portion of the food we consume on campus. In doing this, students get their first significant exposure to food production and all of the questions that it may encompass. All the gardens are organic, utilizing compost developed here on the farm.
One of the joys of living in Vermont during the winter is sugaring season. The students share in that excitement and begin working outside in late February tapping trees, setting buckets and lines, and then gathering the maple sap for boiling. The syrup we produce is used in the kitchen and is sold in the bookstore.
Our woods crews are involved in learning another lifelong skill, cutting wood. Students are taught how to fell trees, and cut them up using both power and hand tools so that they can decide for themselves which they find more comfortable, productive, and safe. Students also learn basic tool maintenance skills for both hand and power tools. The wood is cut from Putney School land and used for heating the cabins on campus and faculty houses.