Alumni Spotlight: Claire Fox ’11

Claire Fox graduated Dickinson in 2011 with a double major in Environmental Studies and International Studies. She began her journey with DCF as a student farmer in her senior year and went on to become an apprentice upon graduation. Claire’s interest in DCF was sparked by a combination of Michael Pollen’s An Omnivore’s Dilemma – breaking down the moral, ecological, and social ramification of our industrialized eating habits – and a deep dive into the many facets of sustainability. She realized her drive to grow food, make even a tiny difference in the food system, and give back to the community and simply could not pass up an opening at the College Farm because, “Everybody eats, ya know?”.

Since her time at DCF, she continues to center her life around food and farming. After the apprenticeship, she moved to Costa Rica to work for the School of Field Studies. There she managed their organic farm and fruit orchard and honed her skills in of composting, vermiculture, and integrated pest management. Afterwards, Claire went to study environmental management and forestry at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and later focused her master’s thesis on the impacts of climate change on coffee production in Latin America. This opened doors to travel to Peru to connect with coffee farmers. On their mountain-side farms, she learned how climate change altered the phenology of coffee plants, crop management techniques, and gained insight into the global coffee market. While at Duke, she also worked part-time for their college farm, the Duke Campus Farm. Today, Claire lives in Eugene, Oregon and works for a local nonprofit land trust to conserve special lands and waters for habitats, trails, and watershed health. She really enjoys the work that she does and is excited to be a part of an organization that is “re-defining what conservation looks like and co-creating a future that is more equitable, just, and accessible.”

Claire says her time at DCF was an “extension of my education.” The hands-on agricultural experience basically earned her an honorary degree in soil science. Furthermore, she developed her leadership, delegation, and teamwork skills, deepened her respect for community engagement, and relished in this outdoor classroom where she was free to turn intellectual ideas into real-life applications. The farm also reinforced her values in holistic systems and thinking, and the importance of patience and positivity.

Her favorite memory of DCF is of our remarkable carrots and all the shapes and sizes they come in. She recalls leading a group of Weed N Feeders out to prod a carrot bed with digging forks – the cries of amazement that came from the volunteers as they unearthed these gorgeous carrots from the soil is stuck in her memory. ”Harvesting carrots never loses its magic”.

Claire stays involved in food production through her community garden plot. She loves growing vegetables and last season tried her hands at giant pumpkins! By the end of the season, she’s earned the grand title of “pumpkin doctor” after healing a split on her prize pumpkin. She sterilized the split and dripped hot beeswax into it to protect it for the remainder of the season. It worked!

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