Alum Pairs Farming and Environmental Education

Carli Thompson
Carli Thompson

Carli Thompson, class of 2012, is a farmer-educator at Cloudview Farm in central Washington. Although it has taken her time to get used to the dry and sparse landscape in the rain shadow of the Cascades, she appreciates the many beauties that are there, from the deeply incised creek valleys to the verdant profusion of spring wildflowers.

Carli sees her work at Cloudview as helping people— especially children—to gain more perspective on the food choices they make every day. She hopes to provide them with tools to keep them and the farming landscape around them healthier.

In the last three years, Carli and her family have also developed a good rapport with the rural community of Ephrata, of which their farm is a part. Although small-scale, diverse, ecologically-minded farming is unusual in their area, they have nonetheless helped community members to connect to the landscape in new ways. Every year, hundreds of elementary-aged children visit Cloudview on field trips. There, they learn about the life cycles of plants and have the chance to taste some fresh vegetable goodness.

Bringing School Projects to Life

In addition, Carli designs and leads a Fall Festival every year at the farm. This year, it enticed over 1000 members of the community out on a weekend to enjoy the farm and participate in a more sustainable way of living in this landscape. Both the school visits and the fall festival have grown from ideas that Carli worked on for her master’s project while at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College. She enjoys implementing these ideas.

Carli’s next farming project will involve a shift in ecosystems. She and her partner, Josh, plan to return to the well-watered east to join operations at Josh’s family’s farm—Bair Lane Farm in Marcellus, Mich. Major in Sustainable Food Systems at Goshen College.