Career center invests in new farming facilities

MIDDLEBURY — Students enrolled in the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center’s agricultural programs will notice a boost in on-campus amenities when they resume classes this fall.
Career center staff this summer have been moving full steam ahead on construction of a 24-foot-by-34-foot barn at the career center’s North Campus off Mainelli Road in Middlebury that will, among other things, house horses and other livestock that students would otherwise have to travel to area farms to examine and care for.
And the barn project would come in very handy for a new offering being considered by career center officials: Raising male dairy goats on campus pastureland as an eventual meat resource. The career center has a new meat cutting program with students who could help process such meat, noted Lily Oyler, a Middlebury College student interning at the career center, and Dave Majzler, the career center’s farm manager.
“Eventually, we might be able to breed our own animals,” Majzler added. “And over the next few years, we want to increase our production of vegetables.”
Those vegetables have been growing in some small raised beds at the career center. Oyler and Majzler have had some good help tending and gleaning the assortment of tomatoes, basil, peppers, onions, garlic, potatoes, cabbage and broccoli. Several students from the MiddSummer Lunch and Recreation Program have been pitching in with farming chores. They have also helped care for the chickens that the career center is raising as a food resource. These young children, primarily ages 8 to 12, have been simultaneously receiving nutritious food and participating in fun activities through the nonprofit program.
All of the career center vegetables will be put to good use, with some of them going to the career center’s Glass Onion kitchen to be transformed into various value-added products, such as salsa.
“One of the best things you can do as a food educator is get children connected to the food system,” Majzler said.
Majzler and Oyler have also been pitching in on construction of the new career center barn. It will feature four animal stalls and a larger, open area to show the animals. John Curler, the career center’s head of maintenance, is leading a construction project that has involved many hands — including those of students and Lynn Coale, executive director of the career center. This on-site labor is one of the reasons the new barn will be able to be erected within a budget of around $50,000. The wooden barn will feature two large doors big enough to accommodate a skid steer for cleaning.
“It should have a roof on by next week,” Curler said of the new structure. “We will complete it as we go through the fall.”
Curler said the barn will provide a more convenient field study area for students. He expects many of the resident animals to be on loan from area farms.
Last week Oyler, who will graduate from Middlebury College next February, wrapped up her summer internship at the career center, which was set up through Middlebury College’s FoodWorks program. It’s a paid, nine-week internship for Middlebury students interested in local food and sustainable development. The students get a chance to touch, taste and work with all aspects of the local food movement for four days each week, then work together on related projects on the fifth day of the week. The college pays three-quarters of its intern’s stipend.
“I’ve loved it,” Oyler, who is from suburban Washington, D.C., said of her time at the career center, during which she has played a substantial role in overseeing the animal programs and the vegetables gardens, including work with the MiddSummer campers. “I feel I have learned so much this summer I know I wouldn’t have learned in the classroom.”
Coale, the career center executive director, was very impressed with Oyler’s energy, intelligence and likable demeanor — and said she relished the opportunity to work on construction of the barn.
“She’s a keeper, we like her a lot,” he said. “She works hard, is very mature, is very articulate, and is great with the kids.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].
A 1,600-SQUARE-FOOT barn is being constructed on the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center’s North Campus this summer. The barn will house livestock that students will care for over the winter. Photo by Mark Bouvier

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