A Chat With Faculty Farmers
When he was Dean of Wabash College, Albion University President Mauri Ditzler ’77 was fond of pointing out that the children of farmers make great scientists. The problem-solving skills, patience, and sense of responsibility they developed in the fields were prime preparation for the lab.
This week’s Wabash on My Mind podcast features two current faculty scientists who “farm” in very different ways.
When she’s not studying eragrostis grasses in Africa or teaching at Wabash, Associate Professor of Biology Amanda Ingram tends a large urban garden (complete with chickens, as well as hops grown for husband Mark Elrod’s beer) in Crawfordsville.
Professor of Chemistry Scott Feller offsets his role as Dean of the College and National Science Foundation grant-funded researcher by working with his wife, Wendy, on their Silver Valley Farm in North Montgomery County.
“My grandparents have a little farm outside of Charlottesville, with a view of the mountains—a beautiful place,” Professor Ingram said when interviewer Richard Paige asked what initially drew her to farming. “I’d spend a week with them every summer, I got a taste of what farming was like. I always admired my grandparents, and for a while I was convinced I was going to be a farmer when I grew up.
“A big part of the time I commit to my farm is time I should probably be spending working out in the Allen Center fitness room,” Feller said. “I really have a hard time going to the gym—it’s very boring. I’d much rather lift hay bales than the machines over at the Allen Center.”
“It has organized my life,” Ingram said of her urban gardening efforts.
“Our farm work has grown as our children went off to college,” Feller said. “I see other parents struggling with that transition as their children go off to college—they don’t know what to do with themselves. Wendy and I made a pretty conscious decision that we weren’t going to be those parents. We were going to find something else to put our energy into.”
Listen to the full podcast.