Here at Kroka, autumn is rolling across the hilltops. The trees are steadily catching fire, and dewy mornings have given way to frost. At dawn, the sun pushes its way through the pond mist, thawing the frozen ground with shafts of gold. In our layers of long underwear and socks, both Gap Year and High School students have continued to work on the farm, learn new skills, and prepare for our upcoming expeditions.

Chicken chores at sunrise

With fall comes the culmination of harvest season. We’ve all been helping out on the farm, both through Morning Chores and Farm Blocks. Some projects have included mulching and weeding the gardens, picking and pressing apples for cider, assisting with Farmhouse construction, as well as harvesting and processing tomatoes, potatoes, and kale. We’re learning to truly value our food, knowing the hard work and consciousness that goes into each delicious meal.

Wood-splitting for Morning Chores

Both semester groups took trips to Orchard Hill Farm and Community to learn from the owner, Marty, about permaculture. He describes permaculture as a toolkit for human survival. In regenerative farming, nothing goes to waste and every action has a clear intention.

Meeting Marty’s forest-dwelling pigs

Fieldwork at Orchard Hill

Another exciting activity this week was knife hafting with Samuel, a semester alum and master craftsman. We began with blocks of cherry wood and Scandinavian steel blades, and ended with unique works of art that will be given as a gift to another member of our group. Putting so much effort into something we are giving away makes it much more special.

Finished knives in hand-sewn leather sheaths

Sonai hard at work

Raina rasping her knife handle

Samuel admiring Finn’s almost-completed sheath

Loving the process

Among our other craft blocks, we had a three hour art class with Pasha. We took a walk to the Beaver Pond and learned the basics of watercolor, creating washes of the landscape before us. We also spent some time drawing a section of forest floor with pen. Pasha was especially excited about the “weird” ones that didn’t look exactly like pinecones and moss but had unique patterns or compositions. It was a refreshing reminder that art isn’t necessarily about replicating the world around us; it’s about creating something that’s interesting to look at.

Art gallery by the pond!

It was difficult to carve out time for fitness among our various activities, but we were able to go on several adventures off campus this week. High Schoolers learned how to rock climb at the nearby Profile, and began to build a relationship with the rocks. We talked about what it means to belay and to be on belay, realizing that the trust we’ve built with one another is what really keeps us safe.

Teo becoming one with the rock

Elena rappelling like a pro

Gap Year students spent a memorable day in Bellows Falls, VT with Misha. We first hiked nearby Mt. Kilburn in Walpole, NH, for a sweeping view of the Connecticut and Bellows Falls. We explored the cultural, natural, and hydrological history of the town, which was home to one of the first canals in the United States. We then swam across the wide Connecticut to get an up-close look at the town’s waterways, old brick mills, and ancient petroglyphs.

Our Big Jobs have kept us busy preparing for expedition in different ways, whether it’s packing out well-balanced meals, repairing and organizing gear, or hashing out logistics. High Schoolers are gearing up for a week of bike-packing, while Gap Year students will embark on a paddling trip down the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers. There’s an air of excitement as we prepare to move from a fast-paced Basecamp lifestyle to the freeing simplicity of being on the move.

Luke and Harry reviewing our route

Anna planning ahead for our drive across the country

Emmett honing his fire-starting skills

Kiely and Sophia planning expedition food

Jackson and Sadie writing the previous blog post

Writing today’s post less than a week later, with a backdrop of fall colors