As Harvard students, we have the option to take time off and travel anywhere in the world. Timbuktu...Bora Bora...northern California? Junior Janie D’Ambrosia of Radcliffe heavyweight crew took a break from Cambridge this past spring to experience the latter.
D’Ambrosia worked at Emandal, an organic farm located outside of Mendocino County, Calif.
Looking to escape campus, D’Ambrosia traveled to Emandal, an organic farm located outside Mendocino Co., Calif, as part of WWOOF, the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.
“I typed ‘outdoor internship’ into Google because I was really looking forward to getting away from the city,” D’Ambrosia says.
Originally from New York City, D’Ambrosia had felt that attending school in Cambridge was not much different from being home.
When she discovered Emandal—located 20 miles outside of Willits, the nearest town in Mendocino County—she immediately jumped at the opportunity to live on an organic farm for two months and experience an entirely new way of life, where everything that she would need was right there on the farm.
“[I] felt so self-sufficient and just really in touch with the land, and how wondrous it was that the land could produce everything that [I] needed,” D’Ambrosia says.
But the transition wasn’t easy.
“I knew nothing about farming when I originally got there,” D’Ambrosia says. “I arrived as such a city girl. I was afraid of the night. I actually walked down the road [thinking] a mountain lion [was] going to attack me.”
Despite the time it took for her adjust, D’Ambrosia feels that the experience was extremely transformative.
Emandal is a five-acre farm that brings in third and fourth grade students from the area to show them what farm life is like.
The students stay at the farm for a week, taking hikes, working with the animals, and learning how Native Americans were able to live off of the land in the past.
As one of 15 workers on the farm, D’Ambrosia was in charge of introducing the visiting students to nature.
In addition to aiding the students with their first encounters on a farm, D’Ambrosia learned many things for herself, such as how to make bread—her daily morning chore—and how to deal with animals.
“We would milk the cows in the morning and drink the warm milk,” D’Ambrosia says. “We butchered a cow while I was there.”