DISCOVER THE FARM: Just across the road from Vassar’s main campus, the Vassar Farm and Ecological Preserve is a 500-acre tract of fields and forests—a little wilderness in the middle of the City of Poughkeepsie. Once a working farm, the land is now a haven for nature lovers, a diverse ecosystem for scientific study, and a bucolic backdrop for rugby and cross country practice.
Run, hike, bike… climb a tree!
Miles of wooded trails and a dirt road provide the perfect terrain for cross country runners, hikers, cyclists, dog walkers, and bird watchers from the surrounding communities. In the fall, the farm also hosts men’s and women’s rugby.
A symbiotic relationship
The Exploring Science program is not only a tremendous resource for local elementary school students to learn about science, but also a unique opportunity for Vassar students interested in teaching. Vassar students create lessons for second and third graders who spend an afternoon on the farm observing animals, conducting experiments, and taking nature walks.
Over 400 acres of the farm is a designated ecological preserve and home to the Priscilla Bullitt Collins Field Station, which contains a library, classroom, laboratory, and modern weather station. The surrounding area consists of everything from streams and wetlands to old-growth forests and meadows and is an ideal place for field observations and both student and faculty research projects.
Spring through fall, local community members work a 120-plot community garden, and also pick up weekly shares of fruits and veggies from the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, a 10-acre, member-supported organic garden. Quite a few Vassar seniors living in the Town Houses, Terrace Apartments, and South Commons get their produce from the farm, and a number of students spend their summer working there as paid interns. The farm also supports a full composting facility that provides compost for farms, urban gardens, and municipalities in Dutchess County.