Death of a College

I hoped that the winding down of the 2019 season would provide the necessary freedom to pursue all my creative desires. When one’s ambitions encompass art, writing, education, and business, there’s a substantial demand for one’s physical, mental, and emotional energy. My garden work ended two weeks ago, and only one farmers market remains, yet I feel just as frenzied and chaotic as I did a month ago.

The announcement that Marlboro College would be “merging with” (to be understood as “acquired by”) Emerson College was nothing less than heartbreaking. With its enrollment dropping to 180 during my time as a student, the college’s struggle to survive was not new information. Yet up until this news broke a week and a half ago, I had assumed that, whatever merger happened, the beloved campus would remain as it were.

There were two reasons I chose Marlboro College. The first reason was because of its beautiful surroundings. The hundreds of acres of thriving, ecological community and rolling farmlands called to me long before I knew I wanted to study agriculture, botany, or ecology. It took just one visit to fall in love with this tiny, blessed hill. The second reason I chose Marlboro was because of its high expectations and self-driven education that ended with a Plan of Concentration (our version of an undergraduate thesis). No other school stood out to me. No other school seemed to promise such an in-depth education. Certainly, no other school was worth the money (to me).

I’ll admit – I struggled with depression quite a bit at Marlboro, felt emotionally isolated almost all of the time, and considered transferring nearly every semester. I always decided to stay, however, a decision I made largely based on that patch of Claytonia virginica who sprouted up every spring around that old oak tree at the corner of Town Trail. I stayed because of the fields of Anaphalis margaritacea, an oddball dioecious member of the Asteraceae and the first Latin name I learned as a freshman. I stayed because of that group of two goats and a sheep browsing in the woods who wouldn’t stop following me on a solo snow shoe adventure. The delightfully rare Cyprepedium acaule, the Hemlock Grove where I lived in a tent for 3 1/2 months, the scraggly and dwarfed apple tree growing in the woods just northeast of the pond on Ho Chi Minh trail – a remnant from when those woods were clear cut for grazing livestock. And, of course, I stayed for the incredible education. You cannot study ecology in a city, and though we ecology students are uniquely affected by this news, I’m sure most alums would agree that any field of study wouldn’t quite be the same anywhere else.

As I continue to work through the grief of losing such an incredible school (and still cling to the hope that some mysterious donor will gift $20 million to the endowment), I feel particularly fervent about going to graduate school. More importantly, I am so grateful to be part of what will now be one of the last few graduating classes from Marlboro College (’16).

It was my intention to start writing again when the growing season ended. Though there are many things to write about, I think I’ll begin with a condensed, less-sciency regurgitation of my undergraduate thesis over the next couple of months.

Get Nerdy & Stay tuned 😉

Coming Soon

Just another couple of weeks before one seasonal job ends and another couple of months for another. Illustration and writing will mostly be on hiatus until things quiet down a bit, but I’m excited to take a winter to mostly dedicate to creative endeavors.

Stay tuned. 😉

Food & Art: A sticker for your thoughts

I am excited to begin focusing more on the written aspects of my illustrations, exploring ideas, patterns, and problems regarding our current food system, sustainability, and cultural relationships to food.
As I begin the application process for graduate studies in food systems, I’ve been thinking more and more about the relationship food and art have together, and I want your input!

In many ways, food and art can be seen as opposites. One is essential for survival whereas the other is a frivolous human anomaly. Yet, both food and art are a way of shaping and expressing culture (both national and local). They can declare social status and reflect social trends. They are sensual experiences that evoke emotion and nostalgia. Food representation in art has existed for as long as there has been art, but its representation has changed drastically over time. I want to hear your own experiences with art and food, how you see them fitting together, and what relationship they share. Does my illustration work have an impact on the way you look at food and its production? Do you think art has a role in fixing our broken food system?

Email your responses to with your address. All responses will be gifted a thank you card and sticker! 

Forbidden Fruits

The appetite for tropical and Mediterranean crops among Northerners rapidly expanded into culinary obsession over the last 100 or so years. Their wide-scale cultivation is highly destructive to lowland rainforests, and their high demand for water can be obscene. Despite this, many who live outside the habitat range of these foreign fruits think that access to these crops is a right.

Lime (Citrus spp.)

Lime is a mysterious fruit. His name refers to many species within the genus Citrus, which is partly due to the genus’s ease in hybridizing. Species cross with others successfully and make new, often tasty, fruits. His place of origin is also still unclear, though he most likely was born in Indonesia or Southeast Asia before traveling westward in 1000 CE.

All work posted here is copyrighted by The Lowly Esculent. Reproducing, using for personal or business endorsement, or the like is not allowed. Please do not share without credit! Thank you!

Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis; Ranunculaceae)

A tried and true medicine as well as colorant, Goldenseal is believed to cure ailments as diverse as muscle spasms, infection, cancer, and more. Like many other wild medicinals, Goldenseal has become endangered, her populations never recovering from mid 19th century over harvesting. While it is now illegal to harvest this Buttercup cousin on public land, there is no control of the sale of herbal products made from this herb. Sources must be carefully vetted to ensure sustainability and respect, or one should avoid use altogether 🍃