Spring break reflections

Adrienne Gallagher

The bright and chilly morning of Saturday, March 26, 10 Lawrentians, still recovering from the intensity and fatigue of winter-term finals, gathered into two LU vans bound for Osceola, Wis. Little did they expect the unique events of the next seven days or the experiences so atypical to life on a college campus.
Located about 300 miles northwest of Appleton, Osceola is not known for its shopping malls or bounding metropolis. What attracted the students to the area was the presence of six lively households that form Community Homestead.
Established in 1995, Community Homestead encompasses a group of 40 people who work together to sustain themselves with farm-grown and homemade organic products and resources. The organization is inspired by the principles of anthroposophy, a spiritual philosophy developed by the German thinker Rudolf Steiner that encourages developing inherent wisdom to reach an ultimate spiritual realm.
Not everyone living in the society embraces those ideals, but all work together to create a nurturing and sustainable environment. Also included in this community are adults with special needs who are cared for and work alongside other members in every activity.
The community is also comprised of many AmeriCorps volunteers, who are incorporated into the community for 6-12 months. The leader of the Lawrence entourage, Katie Loppnow, recently spent a full summer volunteering at Community Homestead as an AmeriCorps member.
Organizing this spring break project on her own, Katie made it possible for 10 students to live on the farm for a week doing several projects and socializing with this unique community.
The main group project consisted of constructing a mobile sugar-shack to house fresh maple sugar gathered in the area. For three hours each day large timbers were carried, crevices were chiseled and drilled and sawdust was gathered in eyes from heavy chain-sawing.
In the afternoon, students separated to do different activities including baking, craft-making, hauling and sorting potatoes, working in the barn, chopping wood, gathering eggs and planting in a greenhouse.
Needless to say, by 5 p.m. each day, all members were exhausted, especially those who woke at 5 a.m. to milk cows that day. Evenings for the students were filled with quiet socialization, movies, or on one special night, a square dance.
In every interaction with the community the students were welcome, every person’s individual skill was utilized, and no one left without appreciation for the excellent food provided by the farm.
The participants found that staying at Community Homestead provided other benefits as well, some rather unexpected. Lawrentians who were strangers on the car ride up had become good friends by the time they made their way home, something inevitable after living together and working so closely on such a large undertaking.
Things Americans often take for granted were given new appreciation when gathered from their raw source, or lacking from being out of season.
The quiet seclusion of the area and slower pace of life provided a stark contrast to life in Appleton for a college student. Deadlines were not as important, bedtimes – and wake-up for that matter – were earlier for many, and people were given the opportunity to savor the moment without needing to rush to a class.
These are just a few glimpses of the world 10 Lawrentians entered into over spring break. After this short week, the students’ perceptions of the world and how it runs were given new perspective.