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Past, Present, and Future

The Knoll: Past, Present, and Future

The farm began with the vision and enthusiasm of a few students and community members and has grown into a dynamic space for exploring the local and global food system.

Timeline of the Farm


  • Bennett Konesni ‘04.5 and Jean Hamilton ‘04.5 envision the Middlebury College Organic Garden and create the plan for it


  • First summer garden (1/8 acre) run by Bennet, Jean, Chris Howell ‘04.5, and Jay Leshinsky
  • Garden shed is built, well and solar panel are installed


  • First garden internships (two part-time interns) and first Children’s Garden program (started by Erin Jensen ‘04 and Sophie Esser Calvi ’03.5)
  • First honey harvest
  • First classes taught at the garden (environmental studies, geology, geography, biology, dance, teacher education, and English)
  • Beginning of seed-saving project


  • Internship program expands to one full-time and two part-time students
  • Garden expands to 1/2 acre
  • Insectary project begins


  • Garden expands to one acre and internship program expands to four full-time students
  • Eight garden members represent Middlebury College at the international Slow Food meetings in Italy


  • Windbreak and classroom construction begins
  • Garden expands to 1.5 acres
  • Seed-saving research done at garden


  • Construction of new walking and biking path to the garden
  • Classroom building completed


  • Garden expands to 2 acres
  • Pollinator research project begins at garden
  • Student CSA (community supported agriculture) program begins with more than 50 students participating


  • Education becomes a focus of the garden, with students building gardens at the Aurora School and the Cornwall School and running school programs
  • Students teach a winter term course called Food Justice in Vermont
  • Students start an on-campus farmstand for faculty, staff, and students
  • Advisor committee forms and first meeting occurs in November
  • Organic certification process begins
  • Hoophouse is built at garden site and used for seed starting and hot crops


  • Name officially changed to Middlebury College Organic Farm
  • Students run a weekend summit for student farmers at NESCAC schools
  • Students and faculty propose food studies minor
  • Students design a barn and planning process begins
  • Students work with the Bronx Academy of Letters in New York to start a rooftop garden and help get the project off the ground


  • His Holiness the Dali Lama comes to bless bench and future Serenit garden
  • EatReal student organization formed
  • First FoodWorks internships create new opportunities for learning about the food system


  • Farm adds 12 egg-laying birds and 40 meat chickens through funding from an Environmental Council Grant


  • Students build a pizza oven at the farm for community events


  • Students build an outdoor kitchen


  • 15 year celebration and naming of The Knoll
  • Labyrinth is built in collaboration with the Scott Center for Spiritual and Religious Life


  • Jay Leshinksi retires and Megan Osterhout Brakeley '06 is hired as the Food and Garden Educator

Alumni in Farm and Food Industries

Middlebury is proud that our students remain committed to sustainable food and farming practices even after graduation, and these listed are just a few of them. If you also work in the industry, email to add your name.

  • Pete Johnson '97, Pete’s Greens (VT)
  • Richard Wiswall '79 at Cate Farm (VT)
  • Bennet Konesni '04 at Sylvester Manor (NY)
  • Corie Pierce '96 at Bread and Butter Farm (VT)
  • Barney '91 and Christiana Hodges '91 at Sunrise Orchards (VT)
  • Sophie Esser Calvi '03.5 Middlebury College Associate Director for Global Food and Farm Programs (VT)
  • Ben Esser Calvi '02 Green Mountain Beverage(VT)
  • Jean Hamilton '04 Food Systems consultant (VT)
  • Megan Osterhout Brakeley '06 Middlebury College Food and Garden Educator (VT)
  • David Dolginow '09 Shacksbury Cider (VT)

Farm Reports

At the end of each growing season, the farm manager publishes a report detailing new projects undertaken, events held at the farm, and more.

Themes discussed on this page: