Laura Cohen ’14, in overalls and braids, walked over to the long line of people waiting for free veggie burgers.
“Marigolds?” she offered, and began passing out fresh yellow flowers.
This Saturday, Long Lane Farm was milling with people attending its annual Pumpkin Fest. Elderly folks nodded along to the banjo tunes coming from the stage, young children wandered from stand to stand, and students snapped pictures at booths and stomped in the just-fallen leaves.
Cohen was selling homemade baked goods, from whole-wheat bread with honey to slices of pumpkin pie, among other treats.
“It’s awesome!” she said. “There are so many people from the community, kids, and professors here. There are great vibes.”
Not even wasps could dampen the mood.
“I bought homemade bread with apple jam, and it was really funny because there were wasps flying absolutely everywhere,” said Anastasia Almyasheva ’17. “The man putting jam onto my bread had wasps all over him, but he didn’t even care.”
Almyasheva enjoyed visiting the other booths as well, which sold everything from smoothies to spices.
“It was a good opportunity to try some of the farm’s produce,” she said. “The spice section was really cool, and I loved the crafts that they had. There were also a lot of little kids there, and it was a really joyous atmosphere.”
Coady Johnson ’15 and Kate Enright ’15, along with other co-organizers, had been planning Pumpkin Fest since August; both spent the summer working on the farm.
“Valerie Marinelli of the College of the Environment approached the group of students who were staying at Wesleyan and asked if any of us would like to volunteer to help plan the Pumpkin Fest,” Johnson said. “This was actually only my second Pumpkin Fest, since it was snowed out my freshman year due to the infamous Snowpocalypse.”
Enright, who spearheaded the crafts and bake sales, was overjoyed with the feedback from visitors to the farm on Saturday.
“I was mostly really happy with people’s reactions,” she said. “People said it was one of the most positive things they’d experienced at Wesleyan, which was a big deal.”
Various environmental clubs, including the Climate Ambassadors, took advantage of Pumpkin Fest to set up booths informing the community about their work. Aly Raboff ’16, one of three student leaders of the Ambassadors, manned her station with the help of two small children from Middletown who sat on her table alternately drinking smoothies and asking questions.
“We just started last semester,” Raboff said. “We’re here to talk about our group, and we have a little quiz going to get people interested.”
A representative from Raw You-niverse, a Middletown organic food store, was serving up signature smoothies at a booth near the stage where bands were playing.
“They asked us to come last year for the first time, and it was so much fun that we had to come back,” said Larry, the smoothie mixer.
The sound of whirring blenders was just background noise to the bands performing on the central stage. The first to perform were the Highlanders, a folk group featuring Vice President for Finance and Administration John Meerts.
“I’ve have a band on campus for the past 11 or 12 years,” Meerts said. “This is the latest incarnation. I play guitar, harmonica, and orchestrate with my feet. I also do vocals.”
This was Meerts’ first Pumpkin Fest.
“I like the farm, and I’m very engaged with it in my official capacity,” he said. “When there was a call out for people to perform, my group and I thought it might be fun.”
And fun it was—even for those in charge. Though he was flipping free veggie burgers and painting faces for most of the day, Johnson was happy to observe the Fest.
“It seemed like everyone was really enjoying themselves,” Johnson said. “My favorite part was seeing the kids from the Middletown Food Project [MFP]. MFP was a program we organized over the summer for families who had kids on the free lunch program at the Snow School….We all really bonded a lot, and it was great to see them at Pumpkin Fest with other people from their neighborhood, since it really is supposed to be open to everyone and not just people from Wesleyan.”
Enright agreed that observing the community engagement was her favorite part of the Fest.
“We all had these kids that we made friends with this summer,” she said. “It was great to see them at the Fest, having a lot of fun just being on the farm.”