Communities Simeon Farwell-Miller
Finding food for thought on the farm
On choosing Marlboro
What first attracted me to Marlboro was the size. I came from a big public high school and had a terrible experience. So I was definitely looking for a much smaller community. Marlboro is small enough that it’s easy to become involved in things. It’s a wonderful thing, but you have to kind of be careful too. It feels like you can actually change things, and in many cases you can, but in other cases change is not quite as easy as it seems.
On coming to Marlboro after a gap year
I applied to Marlboro in high school, got in and then deferred for a year. It was nice having that in the background, to know Marlboro was where I was going next. At the end of the summer I went to Brazil for two months and lived in Salvador, which is the capital of the state of Bahia, where I studied capoeira. It’s a Brazilian martial art that I’ve been studying for around 12 years now. Since I was leaving the studio that I’d studied in for all those years, it was my way of reaffirming my commitment to capoeira. It was a great experience, and I loved Brazil. I hope to teach some capoeira this year at Marlboro.
Academics can be challenging here, but I think it really depends on the balance of classes you take. I had a difficult time with time management at first, having been out of school for a while. First semester I took 14 credits and eventually dropped it down to 12, and that was far too few. They were good classes, but I had more free time than I needed, and I didn’t structure it that well. And then this following semester I tried to compensate for it and I took 18 credits, and that was far too many. So I think what they say about taking 15 to 16 credits a semester is pretty accurate. That’s what I’m going for next semester, and I’m hopeful.
On joining the Farm Committee
I first got involved with the farm when I was on the farm Bridges trip last year. I don’t think there could have been a better experience for me coming here. I had been thinking a lot about food lately because I was working in a grocery store—which might sound kind of dull, but actually I loved it—a little neighborhood grocery store in Berkeley that’s still run by the son of the man who opened it in 1922. I’ve thought a lot about food quality, and production and culture, so I was very interested in the farm and wanted to continue to be a part of it. I put my name on the ballot at Town Meeting and ended up on the committee. Now I’m farm manager.
On the future of the farm
If we can distribute our produce to the coffee shop, and allow some people to benefit from it, I think that’s very good. But the primary purpose for the farm should be more of a community space and educational experience. I would hope that if we can develop it further into a very valuable resource, teachers might consider incorporating it into their curricula, whether that’s biology or sustainability topics or…you can approach it from a lot of different angles. I think there’s a lot of opportunity here. For example, chemistry professor Todd Smith’s class is growing sunflowers here and extracting their oil from the seeds and exploring the making of biofuel.
On advice for incoming students
It’s very easy to get wrapped up in all that goes on here, and forget what’s going on in the world around you. You can kind of lose the connection, but I think it’s important to maintain that. My advice is to remember that you can leave campus, then force yourself to. The Moover and the college vans run almost every day, and they’re free.