The Rian Fried Center for Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past few months.
On August 22, there was a celebration of the McCarthy Barns, which are currently being renovated. The McCarthy Barns were originally built in 1989 to honor the spirited commitment and lasting contributions that John McCarthy Jr. ’62 made to Sterling. John was a graduate of the Sterling School and served as the Chairman of the Sterling Board from 1978-1986.
McCarthy’s children and grandchildren came to campus to share memories and to hang a new sign on the barns. Afterwards, they attended a barbecue with current students and community members, alumni, and friends.
Then, on September 13, the Rian Fried Center was officially unveiled to a large crowd of well-wishers and friends of Rian Fried. Three generations of the Fried family attended to cut the ribbon on the new sign, and to share memories of the late Trustee.
His brother, Kim Fried, reminisced about the fights around the dinner table between Rian and their father. He said, however, that the one thing they always agreed on was the importance of sustainable agriculture.
“You are a reflection of his life in Vermont, his family, his Stannard neighbors, his OCCSA friends, his fellow trustees, his Clean Yield colleagues, even his golf partner,” said his wife, Rachel Hexter Fried, to the crowd.
After the ceremony, there were tours of the farm, the Farrier Shop built in conjunction with Yestermorrow Design/Build School, the new hoop barn, and the draft horse barn site.
Just a little over a month later, on October 18, the community gathered again for the barn raising and dedication of the new Alfond Draft Horse Barn. This new 36 x 40 foot facility was made possible through the generous support of the Peter Alfond Foundation.
Though the day was overcast and rainy, Peter Alfond and his daughter, Trustee Deborah Alfond ’13, were on hand to pound in pegs and talk about what the draft horse program at Sterling means to them.
“[Deborah] had an incredible experience with the draft horse program and a wonderful education at Sterling College, with its emphasis on both working hands and working minds,” said Peter Alfond. “This new facility is a tribute to the college’s model of academic growth through experiential learning.”
Deborah Alfond spoke movingly of how much the draft horses, and faculty in Sustainable Agriculture Rick Thomas, meant to her during her studies. President Matthew Derr agreed, saying “This building is a testament to the hard work of Rick Thomas and to all of our devoted faculty.”
He continued, “They are teaching our students to look very closely at the complex nature of power on a farm, and how to build an ecologically balanced future with horse-powered farms.”
While the landscape of the campus has changed, the overarching belief in a future of farming that doesn’t exacerbate climate change and an ecological approach to food and food production has not. Sterling College has one of the oldest sustainable agriculture programs in the United States, and is currently the only U.S. college that has a minor in Draft Horse Management. •