Breaking Ground on the Future of the Farm

June 7, 2024

It was time to break out the purple and gold hard hats–and some rather small shovels–as students at our nature-based early learning center, the Nest, helped us break ground on a series of transformational projects at Wheeler Farm, including what will be the Nest’s new home. The students dug in, both to the dirt and an adorable “construction cake,” in a special (although rainy!) ceremony at the farm yesterday morning.

Later that afternoon, community members from across school and our two campuses came together for an even larger groundbreaking event that, fittingly, included some larger hardhats and shovels for the adults in attendance.

After expressing appreciation to Wheeler’s faculty, donors, and Board of Trustees for inspiring and supporting the farm projects, which you can learn more about on our Future of the Farm webpage, Head of School Allison Gaines Pell P’23, P’25 said, “These projects will touch every part of our community. They will provide a canvas on which our faculty will create exciting new programs that foster skills of collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving. They will provide our students with new opportunities for health, wellness, and mindfulness that research – and experience – tells us can be found through greater connection to the natural world. They will elevate the Athletics Program, both through an aquatics center that is the envy of every school in the region and by drawing our community out to the farm in support of our wonderful student athletes. They will expand opportunities for students not only to learn science but to do science. They will shape the experiences of Wheeler students, campers, families today and in the future.”

Several students, faculty, alumni, and family members also shared their reflections on the farm. “Today is the culmination of a vision that dates back to Mary C Wheeler, who bought the farm understanding its potential as a second campus for Wheeler,” shared alumni parent and current trustee Kathleen Godley P’09, P’12, P’16. “My three children spent many hours on the athletics fields and were here in the early days of the 6th-grade farm program. Today we start building a permanent facility for the Nest, but big kids can learn in nature too!…Hands-on learning, collaboration, and self-care combine for the successful education of students for a future with occupational unknowns…Today we gather to break ground on these projects that will strengthen and enhance the Wheeler experience and realize the magical potential of this beautiful property.”

“As a Lower School student, to me the Wheeler Farm means exploration, free time, and nature!” exclaimed Grayson P. ’33. “When I think about the future of the Farm, I am excited about having space for our class to be out here even when it’s raining and to have even more trails and paths to explore.”

“As a Middle School student, to me the Wheeler Farm means creativity, collaboration and community,” shared Peppin B. ’30. “When I think about the future of the farm I am excited about having more time out of the city, and more opportunities for freedom and adventure.”

Upper School student Anna C. ’26 described the farm as a place for hands-on learning. “I am excited that future generations of Wheeler students will have more opportunities to be immersed in nature, learning about the environment and the spaces we need to care for,” she said. “Given the climate crisis, it is more important than ever that we appreciate and learn about our amazing planet. I am excited to see where we go from here!”

Sixth-Grade Farm Program Director Sam Abeshouse P’26, P’29 said the farm is “a magical place where students make choices, navigate risk, and work and play together in the beautiful outdoors,” while incoming trustee and Wheeler parent Katie Keeffe P’31, P’32 said the farm “represents balance for our children. It acts as a complement to their daily urban academic experience and a much-needed contrast to the fast paced, technology heavy world we are living in. Our students need this open, green space. When I think about the future of the farm, I’m incredibly excited about what our Aquatics Center will bring to the community; not just as a beautiful and cutting-edge home for a competitive swim team and a thriving summer camp, but also as an incredible center for health and wellness for our entire student body.”

For Carol Cimilluca ’59, who spent 14 years as a student at Wheeler, “The farm holds many special memories, from catching tadpoles, to collecting pokeberries, to dancing in the woods in the pageant, playing field hockey, shearing the sheep, and marching on Field Day…When I think about the future of the farm, I am excited about the ability we have to create new programs and spaces that will enable us to create a second academic campus that will include nature-based learning and the ability to educate our students about our fragile environment. I am excited that these new spaces will be surrounded by native plants that will blend in with the natural landscape. We will act as a lab for all our natural species. I am excited about the continuation of an educational legacy that has stayed with me throughout my life.”

We invite you to learn more about the next chapter in the farm’s educational legacy, and to follow the progress of those projects, on the Future of the Farm webpage.

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