Each semester, the University of Connecticut offers a unique housing opportunity for undergraduates to live at Spring Valley Student Farm (SVSF). Living and working on Spring Valley Farm gives students discounted housing rates and first-hand agricultural experience.
“I first heard about SVSF my freshman year while living in EcoHouse,” sixth-semester English and sustainable plant and soil systems double major Danny Mitola said. “Spring Valley is actually an extension of EcoHouse, and every Friday a couple vans would come to NextGen to pick up students for Farm Friday, the Farm's weekly volunteer event.”
Spring Valley Farm is situated 4.5 miles off campus in rural Storrs. Housing is currently being offered for spring, summer and fall semesters.
“I love the valley itself so much; the train that comes at 7 (a.m.) every weekday morning, the river, the pine trees and the way that you can watch each season manifest itself so beautifully,” sixth-semester global health major Anneke Levine said. “I also love the farm work we do in the warmer months and observing myself and other student farmers grow during our time here.”
At SVSF, students gain hands-on experience in beekeeping, aquaponics, sustainability and organic farming. Each farmer is required to work 10 hours per week on the farm. Tasks can range from digging garden beds to teaching students about sustainability.
“I think my favorite thing about living on the farm is the sense of purpose it brings me,” Mitola said. “Any time I'm feeling down about something, I can just look out my bedroom window and see the farm, and that's pretty reassuring to me. It reminds me that no matter what happens I have something to look to and be a part of.”
According to students, one of the greatest part about living at Spring Valley farm is the sense of community it creates.
“I decided to live here because of the community,” sixth-semester environmental engineering major Zoe Demitrack said. “Since a major in engineering can be pretty dry and technical, Spring Valley allows me to the opportunity to engage with others in a more personally rewarding way. Living at the farm has taught me so much more about how I want to live and has changed how I see my role in the community pushing toward a more sustainable future.”
Being a member of Spring Valley Farm also means actively engaging with other students and members of the UConn community, according to students who live on the farm.
“A lot about living on the farm isn't even about farming,” Mitola said. “We have a community of eleven students here, and much of the farm's emphasis is on fostering community interactions and providing a sense of belonging. I've definitely learned a lot more about the value of that from living on the farm, and it's also one of my favorite things about it.”
Many of the crops grown at Spring Valley Farm are used in Whitney Dining Hall, prepared at the Bistro on Union Street or sold in the spring and fall at the on-campus farmers’ market.
“We grow various different things: Vegetables, some small fruits, flowers,” Mitola said. “We don't have any animals currently, but we're working on it. We're hoping to get chickens in the near future. But, for the most part, we focus on vegetable crops ... we focus a lot on diversity of crops here, so there's honestly too many to list.”
For further information on Spring Valley Farm, their website can be found on the UConn dining webpage.
Rachel Grella is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.