podol ’25 finds inspiration connecting to the land

Every year, the Bailey COE awards fellowships to fund summer research opportunities for Wesleyan students across all majors and class years. Most recently, the COE awarded more than 40 fellowships to Wes students.  Hanah Podol ‘25 is an environmental studies and anthropology major. For her summer project funded by the Bailey COE, she connected with the land through farming and writing.

I spent the first half of this past summer working on an organic farm in Alaska, and the second half interning for Writing the Land, creating reading guides for schools from an anthology called Foodways and Social Justice.  This project allowed me to further explore ways that people can organically and beneficially connect with land to make social change.

Exploration and research through the lens of food justice taught me alot about how people forge connections with the land around them.  While working on a peony farm in Homer, Alaska I learned about organic farming practices, what it means to eat from the land, and how place so directly impacts land-based relationships.  Working for Writing the Land gave me the opportunity to read in the subjects related to land conservation and ecology, as well as to delve into an anthology and work to engage school children with this important material relating to food justice and conservation.  

My experiences this summer have inspired me to continue to deepen my understanding of social change rooted in connection to land, both academically and in my free time. I am so grateful for the opportunity to travel and learn—expanding my knowledge of food justice and broadening my ever-evolving definition of sustainability.