Fribolin Farm Teaches Lessons for Life – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Fribolin Farm Teaches Lessons for Life

From the ability to make firsthand observations on plant development to the chance to gain some real-world foreign language practice, three summer interns on HWS Fribolin Farm found themselves using their academic skills in unexpected ways. Helping to expand the reach of the Finger Lakes Institute Food Systems Program, the interns worked on several programs this summer, including the Little Free Farmstands which provide the HWS and Geneva communities with access to locally and organically grown produce.

Eileen Rath ’20, a psychology major with a double minor in Spanish and sociology, discovered links between her farm work and her academic career. Rath used her Spanish-language skills to translate posts and flyers for the Geneva community sharing news of the Little Free Farmstands and found herself referring to sociological and psychological concepts as she helped with community outreach. Currently she continues to explore connections through an independent study with Visiting Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies Craig Talmage and  Finger Lakes Institute Food Systems Program Manager Sarah Meyer.

“We look at why people give, take or swap, who is doing the giving, taking and swapping, and what behavioral psychology has to do with the process,” Rath says.

Throughout the academic year, HWS Fribolin Farm offers opportunities to engage with the food system, the campus and our surrounding community. Programs include food and farm field trips, garden development, cooking demonstrations, food forums and food processing. Since acquiring the farm in 2013, faculty and staff have incorporated the HWS Fribolin Farm into the curriculum and student experience in many ways. At least 10 professors have directly used the farm in their course work, with many additional students gaining experience at the farm due to co-curricular experiences, independent studies, work studies and service opportunities.

Sam Horner ’21, who intends to declare as a geoscience major, worked as a summer science research student. While growing the food for the Little Free Farmstand, he says he “noticed differences in plant development between the variety of growth mediums, particularly in the plants grown in hay bales versus raised beds. It’s indicative of how plants behave in response to different environments.” During Homecoming and Family Weekend, he gave a poster presentation on his research and findings.

This summer, Alex Cottrell ’20, a double major in ancient Greek and economics, helped build a second Little Free Farmstand on State Street in Gulvin Park, where Geneva residents were provided with free produce grown on the farm—or had the ability to trade some of their own produce.

Comparing his Greek class and his farm duties, he says both required goal-oriented thinking. “The list of things to do never ends; you have to put your head down and do the tasks assigned,” Cottrell says.

The students’ work revolved around the ‘grow to give’ theme of this year’s HWS Chefs’ Collaborative Garden Harvest Garden that will be held on Monday, Oct. 22. They also assisted with beekeeping on the farm as the Colleges work toward being designated as a Bee Campus USA.

Students interested in pursuing a farm internship should contact Meyer or Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Kristen Brubaker at