The Story Behind Cuvilly Arts & Earth Center Farm
With names like Peanut, Obadiah, Zeke and Wendell, the resident sheep at Cuvilly Arts & Earth Center's farm graze on land that once sustained the indigenous Agawam tribe. The sheep share their pastures with Charlie, a llama/alpaca mix, as well as a herd of Nubian goats. At night, they bed down in a reconstructed 19th century timber-framed barn with Cuvilly's other animals, including two donkeys, two horses, a flock of poultry and two pot-bellied pigs. There may even be a spider or two living up in the rafters.
Why does an organization dedicated to promoting ecological sustainability and early childhood education maintain a farm? For several reasons - the most basic one being that the farm was there first. Cuvilly Arts & Earth Center is located on the grounds of a former dairy farm. In fact, the building that houses the organization's school, art studio and offices is a renovated dairy barn, originally built in the 1940s.
According to Cuvilly Founder and Director Sister Patricia Rolinger, the farm provides an environmentally healthy embedding for the organization's pre-school and kindergarten. It also allows the diversity of creation to flourish right in her own back yard - something Sister Pat, as she is known, cherishes.
"Cuvilly's many animals are more than a backdrop for our school," she says. "They teach our students that eggs come from chickens, not the supermarket. Our students come to understand how a pig is so much more than a pork chop. That it's a creature with unique qualities and contributions to make to the rest of creation."
For Sister Pat, living among animals and the earth reminds her every day that all life is sacred and interconnected, a message that she hopes is absorbed by everyone who visits or attends Cuvilly's programs.
"To give children the experience of diversity is critical to nurturing their basic instinct to live in harmony with the created world," says Sister Pat. "Without diversity, the quality of all life diminishes, be it agricultural or societal."
In addition to providing an enriching background for Cuvilly Arts & Earth Center's School, the animals also contribute to the physical and economic health of the world.