By Mary Coventry ’10
“I jump in to some pretty stressful situations with both feet. I am currently taking two graduate programs and working full time,” said Hanako Jones ’08. She works as a direct care worker at Brattleboro’s Northeastern Family Institute’s dialectical behavioral therapy group home for girls with tendencies towards borderline personality disorder. “If Marlboro taught me anything, it is that a little hard work won’t kill you. And what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
At the group home, Hanako works directly with young girls who have borderline personality disorder. She brings them to doctors’ appointments and home visits as well as helping them work through their issues using dialectical behavioral therapy, a therapeutic method designed to help patients manage their emotions.
Hanako’s Plan focused on animal-assisted therapy, a field she hopes to pursue after graduate school. She has her sights set on working at Green Chimneys in upstate New York, the largest animal-assisted therapy facility in the world. “I’d love to learn how to run my own smaller facility to help people in the Brattleboro area through the use of animals,” she said. Hanako is currently attending Antioch New England and working toward a master’s in clinical mental health counseling, as well as a certificate in autism spectrum disorders.
I am now living at Peaked Mountain Farm in Townshend, Vermont, where I work as an assistant cheese maker, baker and general farmhand. For the winter I’ve been running the Peaked Mountain stand at the Brattleboro farmers’ market to supplement my income. At the market I sell a variety of baked breads, cheese, delicious herbed-cheese scones, some of my own homemade sauerkraut, eggs from my small flock of laying hens and a dish called “Tunisian Olives.”
I ended up at Peaked Mountain because the farm owners came up to the college in my senior year to recruit workers. I guess they had good experiences with a number of other Marlboro students that had worked for them in the past and decided there must be something to it. Anyway I just showed up for an interview that day and had a job about a week after I graduated. My stay at the farm has been a continuous education, as something new seems to crop up even when I think I have learned everything. Most notably the farm owners helped to refine my baking skills, taught me to make cheese and showed me many of the finer points of caring for and milking sheep.
My Plan at Marlboro was a combination of Asian studies and visual art. You might think that there could not possibly be any connection between these subjects and farming, but that’s not true. The time I spent writing research papers at Marlboro has actually helped me quite a bit when it comes to learning about sheep and their care. After reading several books on the subject in my spare time, I have a better grasp on their anatomy and modes of perception, which greatly changes the way I interact with them and makes it easier to get them to go where I want them to go. The creative side of my Plan work really opened me up to be willing to get dirty and enjoy this kind of work. Finally, I borrowed Masanobu Fukuoka’s One Straw Revolution from my friend Nels Lund ’09 one spring break, and that book definitely planted the seed of a farmer in the back of my head.
I’m really looking forward to the coming spring and all of the growing potential it has to offer. I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading on permaculture and ecological building in my spare time and hope to be part of the first ever southern Vermont permaculture class (with Kirstin George Edelglass ’95 as an instructor). Long term, I would like to someday start a farm and would like to also get back to making some artwork. For now I have to make due with just adding a bit to my sketchbook in my lazy spare hours between farm work.