In between semesters, many students chose to spend their summers on campus, providing the perfect chance to enjoy Middlebury without having to endure the harsh weather and harsher workload. After being online during the summer of 2020, many of the Middlebury Language Schools were back in person this year, making campus all the more vibrant with multilingual students. Many students also chose to work on campus, helping to keep the campus up and running over the summer, whether it was at the gym, the library or the dining hall. Reika Herman ’24 attended the French language school for the majority of the summer. Herman spent her time diligently studying French, taking up to four classes each weekday. In addition to studying, she was a participant in the French School Choir. “Weekends were mostly spent in town with other French students or going to the French school dances at Wilson Hall,” Herman said. She was one of more than a hundred Language School students to call the Middlebury campus home for the summer. In addition, some students stayed on campus due to travel restrictions or logistical difficulties that barred them from international travel. One such student was Angela Izi ’24. Izi worked five times a week in Proctor Dining Hall, serving language school students from late June, when the program started, until it ended August 13. “I had a great time just meeting the nice people that were there and being able to help the language students that were on campus,” she said. For Izi, summer at Middlebury meant time to explore and become more familiar with a place that she had not fully gotten to know. “I didn’t have any host family. Because of Covid, we never really got to do that for international students,” Izi said. She used her time on campus this summer to become more acclimated to the college. Izi also had free time to explore the town of Middlebury and the surrounding area, something she was not able to do this past year because she studied remotely in the fall and was too busy in the spring. “I managed to find a circle of friends that I hung out with the whole summer, and we did a lot of exploring around Midd,” she said. The group spent their time biking to the East Middlebury Gorge and down Weybridge Street. Izi was also able to explore Burlington for the first time. Other students used time over the summer to gain experience working and volunteering. Abed Abbas ’24 stayed on campus over the summer due to the present economic and political circumstances back home in Lebanon. “I wanted to make use of the summer to grow and get some experience,” he said. Abbas worked as a student intern in the Disability Resource Center and as a lab assistant in the stock room of Bicentennial Hall. In addition to working forty hours a week, Abbas volunteered to work in Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Clarissa Parker’s lab for ten hours a week, helping with research on the effects of withdrawal on mice. Abbas experienced an ever-changing social scene that was unlike the past school year. “It was kind of boring at the beginning, as not everyone was here yet,” he said. But once the language school students arrived on campus in mid-June, the campus was much more vibrant. “It was much easier to focus on the close relationships and friendships after the work is done, which was totally different than last semester,” he said. For some students who spent their summer at Middlebury, it was time to explore the area and focus on gaining non-academic experiences, while others devoted themselves to language learning or work while getting to know Vermont and the campus better.
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Sugaring, the process of creating maple syrup, started around three weeks later this year than is typical for the industry. As a result, there has been a 50–70% drop in maple syrup production throughout Vermont and southern Canada. “This year, we didn’t collect any sap until the third week of March because it was really cold,” said Donald Gale, owner-operator of Twin Maple Sugarworks. The sugaring season is usually only about three weeks long, and sugarers usually collect an average of 7,000 to 9,000 gallons of maple syrup per day. The starting date of sap collection depends heavily on temperature. “It all has to be done early in the spring or late winter when the sap is at its richest sugar, because as the season progresses later into spring, the trees are starting to grow and they’re demanding a different kind of solution from their stored reserves,” said John Buck, principal operator of Buck Family Maple Farm. As the sugar content drops out of the syrup, tapping the tree will yield more of a mineral-rich water solution that cannot be boiled to produce maple syrup.The flow of sap out of the tree depends on the right combination of colder nights, warmer days and a certain amount of pressure in the atmosphere. Due to cold winter conditions, the sugar content was lower in this year than previous years, which made processing the sap less efficient. In a typical year, one gallon of maple syrup requires about 40 to 45 gallons of sap. This year, it required closer to 65 gallons. Gale stated that sugaring also started late in 2016. In that year, the production extended almost until May due to ideal weather conditions. This year, however, the sugaring window remained short. Since the maple industry is heavily seasonal, some maple producers like Murray Thompson of Thompson Farm have decided to run other wintertime operations. “Now I do some other things like Christmas trees and pumpkins and raspberries, and I cut a lot of hay and sell it,” Thompson said. Buck uses leftover maple syrup from the previous spring to put in glass jars and sell as Christmas presents during the holiday season as his alternative source of revenue. Once the maple syrup has been processed, many maple producers sell their products all over the country. “Some of my best customers are actually in Alaska, the West Coast, Colorado,” Gale said. However, there are also some producers who prefer to sell locally. “We sell [maple syrup] right here throughout the year to customers that I have,” Gale said. He typically cans some of the maple syrup each year, allowing him to decide later on what to do with it. While he mentioned that selling syrup in bulk is not his intention, sometimes there is too much syrup left at the end of the season so he connects with a wholesaler to get rid of the extra drums. “It’s always good to make enough syrup so that you don’t have to turn customers away,” Gale said. Similarly, much of the maple syrup produced at Buck Family Maple Farm is sold in organic farmers markets throughout Vermont, as well as to wholesalers who use that maple syrup to produce jugs sold in stores. Buck says that many maple producers feel they were destined to work in the maple industry given familial connections and childhood memories associated with making maple syrup. While working in the maple industry is “not a get-rich-quick scheme by any means,” as Buck says, making maple products has provided many of these maple producers opportunities to connect with their families as well as an outlet to continue working with what they love. “It’s a labor of love,” Buck said.
Vermont Coffee Company, supplier of coffee to the college, is being sold to Stonewall Kitchen, a large specialty-food company based in Maine. It currently operates a cafe in downtown Middlebury and has product distributors throughout the Northeast. Middlebury resident Paul Ralston established the coffee company in 2001. He has been looking to sell Vermont Coffee Company for the past three years and has been committed to putting together a succession team to manage the company before he fully retires. Ralston plans to stay with the company throughout the company’s adjustment to the new management. Over the past year and a half, he has trained and integrated two senior management hires into Vermont Coffee Company to ensure he will be leaving the business in good hands. Stonewall Kitchen leadership cited Vermont Coffee Company’s prioritization of sustainable business practices over the past few years as one of the reasons behind its acquisition. In April 2018, Vermont Coffee Company became the first roaster in the United States to exclusively use renewable biogas as its energy source to roast its coffee. “The Vermont Coffee Company products are sustainably sourced, 100% organic and — most importantly — make a delicious cup of coffee. We believe these deeply rooted values and commitment to quality make Vermont Coffee Company the perfect addition to our family,” said Stonewall CEO John Stiker in an interview with the Addison Independent. Ralston is hopeful that selling to Stonewall Kitchen will benefit the Middlebury community as well as the town’s economy. “We’re going to be busy and growing; there’s no question about it. And we’re going to be hiring,” Ralston said. Stonewall plans on opening a new, larger cafe in downtown Middlebury. As a leader in the world of organic coffee roasting with a large potential to grow in popularity over the next decade, Vermont Coffee Company garnered a number of offers in addition to Stonewall’s, according to Ralston. However, the sale to Stonewall was an easy decision. “Vermont Coffee Company is going to have access to a lot more resources and a much bigger distribution network,” Ralston said to the Addison Independent. The current Vermont Coffee Company cafe in downtown Middlebury is temporarily closed. Ralston’s primary role for the upcoming months is to develop the new cafe in a location yet to be determined, which he is hopeful will open in the fall of 2021.
With the Nov. 21 move out date just around the corner, all students but those approved to remain on campus are getting ready to pack up and leave campus. Whether you are planning to take the spring semester off, return to campus or are still undecided, The Campus has compiled a move-out guide outlining the protocols for departure this week. Remote or gap semester students Students who do not plan to return in the spring must fully move out of their residential space, meaning they must pack up everything in their room, suite or house and take it with them. Any students who are in need of packing supplies can find them near the Mail Center, in the Ridgeline Suites building, in Forest West and all dining halls. Students returning for spring Students living in singles — including those located in suites — who plan to remain in the same room in the spring may leave all their belongings in their rooms. Students living in doubles who plan to return in the spring must move their belongings off the floor and onto one side of the room — either onto their bed or desk — and away from all heaters, windows and exits. Each roommate should label their bed, desk and side of the room with their name, ID number, residence hall, room number and phone number to better organize and keep track of each student’s items. Any belongings, including larger items, in shared common spaces should also be labeled. Changing rooms If students are changing rooms for the spring semester, they should move their belongings to their new room. If this is not possible, students should fully pack and label all of their belongings and leave them in their current rooms. Students unsure of their plans Holly Ange, Battell and Allen residence director, said students who are unsure of their spring plans should pack and move out, since residential life is not yet sure how they will handle belongings that are left behind. “For students who think there’s any chance they might decide later on to go remote for spring, I recommend that they take as many of their belongings home with them, as they can to ensure that they’re able to access what they would need if they don’t return,” Ange said. General Move-Out Protocol Every student who is moving out must clean their room or suite before leaving, including disposing of all trash, recycling and compost. Vacuums and other cleaning supplies are available in each building’s designated areas. Additionally, all students must lock and shut their windows, pull down their shades, unplug all unused or nonessential small appliances and remove all their personal items from bathrooms. Students should set their room thermostat to the middle setting (any thermostats that range from “snowflake” to 8 must be set to 4), to prevent pipes from freezing. Students should bring all plants and pets with them. Students must also follow any additional building-specific closing or checkout procedures communicated by their Residential Director, including filling out closing tags left on residents doors by signing with the date and time they are leaving and checking the boxes indicating that they have followed all moving-out measures. Off-campus students The college recommends that off-campus students follow many of the same procedures as those who are on-campus, including taking out all trash, washing dishes, moving trash cans, bikes and furniture inside, as well as locking all doors and windows. Pick-up and departure logistics All students will need to leave by 8 p.m. on Nov. 21, unless they have received direct permission from the school to remain longer. At that time ID card access to residence halls will be deactivated. Students may have a maximum of two guests pick them up from campus. These guests cannot enter residence halls, must stay with their cars and are required to follow Vermont Covid-19 guidelines, including wearing a face covering. Vermont guidelines also stipulate that visitors must quarantine at home for two weeks before entering the state. Parents picking up their college students are exempted as long as they make no contact with anyone in the state. If a day trip is not possible, they may stay overnight in the state only if they quarantine at their hotel.
Restaurants and access to food in Vermont have both been notably altered by the Covid-19 pandemic: restaurant revenue has declined, resulting in layoffs, and food insecurity now affects one in four Vermonters. In order to mitigate both of these concerns, Vermont put into place Everyone Eats, a temporary program started in July to distribute free meals to food-insecure households at dozens of sites around the state. The meals are prepared by local restaurants, which receive funds to purchase ingredients from Vermont farms and food producers. The program, run by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development in partnership with Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA), is funded by a $5 million portion of the state’s Covid-19 Relief Fund. SEVCA is responsible for allocating the funding and administering it to the program’s hubs. Charlie DiPrinzio ’21 is a coordinator for the Rutland “hub” of this program, which is run through the Vermont Farmers Food Center (VFFC). The center began distributing over 800 meals per week in late August, according to the VFFC’s website. There are currently nine restaurants associated with the Rutland hub of this program. DiPrinzio noted that the mission of the Everyone Eats program is not only to help “people who have been impacted by Covid-19, whether that’s financially impacted or emotionally or physically” but also to help by “providing some steady income to restaurants that have been struggling, and injecting more money into the local economy,” because of the program requirement that the meals include 10% local food. Everyone Eats has seen significant success throughout Vermont. The coalition of local food shelves, shelters, other service providers, businesses, community groups and private citizens working in partnership with SEVCA is producing and distributing 11,000 meals per week, according to their website. While DiPrinzio noted that college restrictions requiring students to stay within Addison County have kept him from going into the Rutland community to see success at those restaurants firsthand, he says that the Rutland hub of this program has been collecting positive feedback from those picking up meals. One catering business in particular, Mamma Tamara, cucina Italiana, has benefited significantly from its involvement in Everyone Eats. Tamara Musto, owner of the business, joined Everyone Eats in order to minimize the impacts that Covid-19 has had on her business. “Business slowed down a lot because of Covid. I used to be at the market in Rutland, and we had to shut down, so basically my business shut down too,” she said. Musto’s situation is one that many other restaurant owners across Vermont and the country can relate to, as their primary sources of income are put to a halt. Musto has been working with BROC Community Action, a nonprofit in Rutland helping with food security, and Everyone Eats in order to build up her catering business again, aiming to soon open her own deli. “I started to do the markets, and they give me a little help, and [I receive] love from people around, but the big push that I had with Everyone Eats really helped with making my dream come true,” Musto said. She’ll be opening her deli on Nov. 13 in Danby, Vt. DiPrinzio makes sure to pass these comments on to the state funders to let them know how beneficial this program is. He says that although funding is set to expire in mid-December, administrators of the program are working to extend it, which requires legislative action. DiPrinzio notes that since the hubs of this program have known all along that Everyone Eats is a temporary program, they have been trying to provide information and connect the beneficiaries of the meals with existing food programs and resources in Vermont, including 3SquaresVT and other food security programs that can help with food access. It is hard to say what the future will look like for DiPrinzio’s hub of Everyone Eats, but despite uncertainty, the program is focused on achieving their goals of stimulating the economy and helping food-insecure families and restaurants.
Like nearly all campus operations, the process for picking up packages from the mail center this year has been altered to comply with social distancing protocols. This fall, the pick-up location was moved entirely to the warehouse, although envelopes and small packages can still be retrieved from students’ mailboxes in McCullough Student Center. In a normal year, package pick-up would be split between the warehouse and the mail center in McCullough during the beginning months of the academic year. The typical system for package pick-up in the McCullough mail center did not allow for proper social distancing, according to Jacki Galenkamp, the mail center supervisor. Students usually form a line that extends from the pick-up window and runs parallel to the wall of mailboxes. “If you were to have to do that six feet apart, it could definitely be problematic,” Galenkamp said. Moving package pick-up to the warehouse allows for proper social distancing outside. At the beginning of every academic year, the mail center receives a high volume of packages as students order dorm room and school supplies. Last year, the mail center received about 30,000 packages in the first two months of school, according to Galenkamp. “The warehouse is [normally] open for about the first month of school, because we get between 1,000 and 1,500 packages a day and a lot of those are large items,” Galenkamp said. But this year, the mail center has been receiving fewer packages than other years, possibly because of the abbreviated in-person semester and instructions for students to pack lightly. The new package pick-up location has some benefits for the mail center staff and the package delivery staff. The loading dock, where packages are dropped off by mail carriers, is located near the warehouse, making transporting the packages easier. “To have all of the packages being processed in one space has definitely been a very positive thing because we don’t have to split our work,” Galenkamp said. Additionally, the warehouse is not near other sources of crowding. This is in contrast with the mail center, which is near the Grille, Crossroads and Midd Xpress. The transition to the warehouse has been smooth, according to Katie Wilmore ’23, a student worker at the mail center. “We are essentially doing the same thing but in a bigger space,” Wilmore said. Eventually, package pick-up may have to move back inside McCullough since the warehouse does not have insulation for the colder months. ”We had a couple of days when it was frozen overnight, where we had some issues with the computers,” Galenkamp said. As the weather turns colder, Galenkamp is hopeful that adjustments can be made to keep computers in the warehouse running so the mail center staff can continue to operate from the warehouse. “Our number one priority is to be safe and to get everything done in a timely manner,” Galenkamp said. “We thought we were gonna be moving back [to McCullough], but if the weather holds, there’s no reason that we have to, so, we’ll see.”