The Farm School connects people to the land by serving as a family farm for the coming generations. We are an organization of three interweaving programs spread out over the land of four old family farms in rural Mass, now linked together under our common stewardship. Careful mentoring, meaningful work, humor and kindness are at the center of all we do.
Our Program for Visiting Schools provides multi-day, residential, school-year and summer farm programs for over 2,000 young people and their teachers each year. Our typical program is a two and a half day field trip for middle schoolers, in which we task the students with running all the aspects of the farm: cooking the meals, and working in the garden, forest and barn with the animals. Children are given the opportunity to experience their own capacity to contribute to the farm.
Our Chicken Coop Middle School is an onsite, full-time, one-room home school cooperative for local kids. Students attend classes with our teachers on the farm everyday, sharing the farm yard with the adult Learn to Farm program. Farm life, art and music classes run alongside math, literature, social studies and science.
Our Learn to Farm Program is a year-long, residential, practical training in sustainable agriculture for adults. Now in its fourteenth year and with over 125 graduates, the program is a rigorous, curriculum and skills-based immersion in small scale, diversified farming. As part of their learning, student farmers grow certified organic veggies on 12 acres of our fields for our 200 family Summer Vegetable CSA and farmers markets, and we raise pork, lamb and beef on our pastures for our Winter Meat and Egg CSA.
Here at the Farm School, young people work the land and take home the cultural history, vital experience, and personal identity that farms nurture. Teachers work alongside their students and leave with new insights into their craft and children they teach. And adults learn to farm and carry essential knowledge from one community to the next.
The people that breathe life into The Farm School every day.
Molly Saint Clair
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The kind group that works in the larger world to make The Farm School possible.
John Perry Barlow
Anne Childs Collins
The people that work behind the scenes to guide the farm school’s operations.
Patrick Connors, Director Having participated in the early years of the Learn to Farm program as a student farmer, Patrick returned to lead The Farm School in 2007, after farming in California.
Ben Holmes, Founder Ben has the wonderful job of appreciating the day-to-day glory of what the staff makes manifest at The Farm School and communicating its essence to the outside world.
Caitlin Sargent, Research and Development Caitlin worked as a cartographer before coming to the Learn to Farm Program. Since graduating, she has served as assistant farmer in the adult training program and now is helping the administration with R&D projects. She loves the strong work ethic and kind community of the Farm School.
Sandra Langmandel, Summer Program Coordinator, Database Manager and Bookkeeper Sandra has been at the farm a very long time. She works in the office, and she loves the kindness and family feel of the farm.
Nora Weaver, Marketing Manager. Nora graduated from the Learn to Farm program in September 2013. Now she manages marketing for our CSAs and helps out with administrative odds and ends for the Learn to Farm program and the Program for Visiting Schools. She loves helping people connect with this beautiful place & our wonderful food!
If you are a reporter or press outlet hoping to include the Farm School in a story or article, please contact Patrick Connors, email@example.com, to arrange for comments, visits, and photography. Photographs on the right of this page may be downloaded at higher resolutions. Photo credit: Erik Jacobs, Plough and Stars Project.
The Farm School has been featured in many articles in recent years. Take a look below to see the range of what we do through the eyes of writers, students and photographers.
Connecting to Land, Reflections from the Farm School. Taproot Magazine: Preserve, summer issue 2016. By Learn to Farm alumni and current Farm School staff member Caitlin Sargent. (Issues available in bookstores and health food stores nationally now and also for purchase on the Taproot website www.taprootmag.com)
A Day in the Life of Sugar Maple Tappers, The HuffingtonPost visits the Farm School during Maple Sugaring season. March, 2015
2013 Learn to Farm Graduate Erik Jacob’s regular articles about the Learn to Farm program in the Boston Globe:
- January 1, 2013 – Letter from Farm School
- February 5, 2013 – Spring seems far away
- March 26, 2013 – Farm School apprentices prepare for spring
- May 13, 2013 – Dug in and flat out: planting time
- December 3, 2013 – Apprentice’s year comes to an end
Erik’s pictures featured on NPR’s the picture show, In Search of Sunrise: A Photographer Heads to Farm School, November 22, 2012.
The US professionals quitting the rat race to become farmers, BBC, August 28, 2013
At The Farm School, Making The Leap From The Boardroom To The Cornfield. A piece by WGBH news featuring our student farmers and alumna Laura Sackton, founder of First Root Farm in Concord.
Former Program Director, Reid Bryant, writes about the Program for Visiting Schools in Northern Woodlands, At Work and at Play in the Northeastern Forest, February 24, 2012.
PBS’ crew of Growing a Greener World enrolls for a week at The Farm School’s Learn to Farm program, December 1, 2011.
The Learn to Farm program in the Boston Globe, Tough road to reap, August 24, 2011.
Article about the Learn To Farm program in the Pacific Standard, March 10, 2011.
The Learn to Farm program in the Boston Globe, Magna cum carrot, November 3, 2010.
Check out The Farm School’s adult program in Farming Magazine, May 2010.
Farm School Director and Learn to Farm Graduate, Patrick Connors, in UNH Magazine, Fall 2008.
A Year in the Learn to Farm program, Edible Boston, 2008
A 4-part Series
Download as pdfs:
Student Blogs and Photographs
Deeply Rooted by current student farmer Suzannah Holsenbeck (Learn to Farm ’16)
Dirt Eaters by past student farmer Brian Massey (Learn to Farm ’14)
The DotPages by past student farmer and current farmer/teacher at the Program for Visiting Schools, Dottie Arnold (Learn to Farm ’14)
One full year from a student’s perspective – Plough and Stars project by Erik Jacobs (2012-13).
Farm School Annual Newsletters
Thanks for your interest in joining the staff at the Farm School!
2017 Summer Staff, Summer Camp:
Dates are June 17 – Aug 4.
As summer staff, you have a big role to play. You are the closest people to the campers, and your enthusiasm and excitement is the life blood of the camp. You will get campers to bed and wake them up. You are their comfort and support through night and day. When things are hard or challenging, they will turn to you. You will be assigned to a Work Area (barn, garden, forest) to help lead the campers in farm work throughout the summer. Essential qualities we look for in our summer staff are humor, initiative, kindness, vibrancy and a love of hard work, also best if you are 18 or older by the start of camp.
Staff positions fill quickly so we encourage you to apply soon.
We regularly have openings for one year Farmer Teacher positions in our Visiting Schools Program and Summer Staff positions for our Summer Camp programs. Jobs are frequently posted on social media, so we encourage you to like our Facebook page and check our website often.
We serve diverse communities of students and we are striving to develop a staff that reflects that. We encourage all qualified candidates to apply to our open positions.
The Farm School does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, sex, sexual orientation, or national or ethnic origin in any of its school administered policies or programs.
Come visit us on the Farm!
Driving directions from Boston:
Take Route 2 West past Templeton. Not long after you pass the exits for Templeton, Route 2 will narrow from 4 lanes to 2. Shortly after that, take Exit 18 for ATHOL (marked: Athol, Route 2A). At the end of the ramp, go LEFT onto Route 2A west. Follow 2A down through Athol straight through the center of town (about 3 miles). Cross the bridge and turn RIGHT just before the “Country Convenience” store onto Mt. Pleasant Street. After a couple of hundred yards, bear RIGHT at the first Y in the road towards North Orange, and proceed with the graveyard to your left and river on your right. After about 3/4 of a mile, turn LEFT onto Brooks Road, take your next LEFT and go steeply up Moore Hill Road. Continue RIGHT at the turn onto Sentinel Elm Road, a dirt road. Finally, follow the sign for Farm School Parking into the lot on the right and walk up to the bunkhouse on the hill.
Directions from the West:
Take Route 2 East to Exit 16. Turn RIGHT at the bottom of the exit ramp onto Daniel Shays Highway, 202. Continue until the road makes a T next to McDonald’s and turn RIGHT (which puts you on Rt. 2A in Athol traveling east). In about a mile, just after the “Country Convenience” store on the left, take a LEFT on Mt. Pleasant Street and head towards North Orange. After a couple of hundred yards, bear RIGHT at the first Y in the road, and proceed with the graveyard to your left and river on your right. After about 3/4 of a mile, turn LEFT onto Brooks Road and take your next LEFT and go steeply up Moore Hill Road. After the road levels out and takes a sharp right it becomes Sentinel Elm Road, a dirt road. Finally, follow the sign for Farm School Parking into the lot on the right and walk up to the bunkhouse at the top of the driveway (directly across from the big white barn).
University of Massachusetts: The Farm School has partnered with UMASS to offer a full year of credit towards the Sustainable Food and Farming Degree at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture for completion of the Farm School’s Learn to Farm Program.
Mt. Grace Land Trust: Mt. Grace is a central Mass regional land trust that is a founding member of the Greater Quabbin Food Alliance and has partnered with the Farm School and many other regional farms to make land purchase feasible and protect agricultural resources in the region. Jammie Pottern, Mt. Grace land conservation specialist, is a Learn to Farm graduate.
Fruition Seeds: The Farm School’s Learn to Farm Program has partnered with Fruition Seeds, a wonderful values-based seed company in the Finger Lakes that focuses on regionally adapted seeds, to grow specific varieties of seed for their product catalogue. Kim Rich, seed saver at Fruition, is a Learn to Farm graduate.
Spannocchia Foundation: Spannocchia encourages global dialogue about sustaining cultural landscapes for future generations through the example of the Tenuta di Spannocchia. Many Farm School Student Farmers and staff have visited and participated in Spannocchia programming in the past.
Center for Agriculture Food and the Environment: The UMASS Ag Extension Office works to support the Farm School’s commercial vegetable production through trainings in Integrated Pest Management, field walks, pest scouting and research.
Farm Based Education Association: The Farm School is a founding member of the Farm Based Education Association, whose work is to inspire, nurture and promote farm-based education.
Common Grow: Learn to Farm Alumni and lawyer Richard Cavanaugh runs Common Grow, working with farmers and other landholders, home buyers, government, and non-profit agencies to identify, preserve, and/or reclaim farm land. Rich assisted The Farm School with its project to purchase and protect a 95-acre parcel that bridges its two farms and also now provides housing opportunities for its staff.
The David Wax Museum: wonderful band, has performed for our benefit concert three times. We love them!
Hennrietta’s Table: Chef Peter’s incredible farm to table restaurant at the Charles Hotel, wonderful, generous hosts of our annual Big Pig Gig.
Iggy’s Bread of the World: The bakery in Cambridge whose bread is a mainstay of our diet at the farm. Wonderful hosts of our Cambridge MA farm share distribution site, and generous suppliers delicious bread!
Athenahealth: Our wonderful corporate partners for our Watertown farm share distributions.
The Farm School
488 Moore Hill Road
Athol, MA 01331
Program for Visiting Schools
Summer Camp and Bookkeeping
Learn to Farm
The Chicken Coop School
Research and Development
Tim Barrett Creative
the Farm School
Please get in touch and come visit