A Proposal to Establish a New England Farm Center at Hampshire College
November 17, 1978. Click here to download a pdf of the entire proposal.
Hampshire College proposes to establish a New England Farm Center, which will be the organizational nucleus of (1) a demonstration program to assist in the revitalization of the New England agricultural economy, linked to the New England Cooperative Extension network to disseminate the program's results; and (2) an undergraduate program in agricultural studies, within the College's School of Natural Science...The goals of the Center are to help New England farmers, especially those involved in small and part-time farming; to revive the region's agriculture; and to produce graduates with a fuller understanding of this nation's agricultural systems...
The College is sharing in the financial responsibility for the development of the center, and once it is in operation will fund significant portions of its continuing operation out of the annual operating budget.
1. Present Day New England Agriculture
Although the northeast United States contains some of the best farmland in the world, 80-90% of the food consumed here is grown elsewhere, and the amount of land under active cultivation has been delining steadily for over one hundred years. In the mid-nineteenth century, New England farmers raised nearly all of their own food and exported a major portion to the rest of the nation. Flocks of sheep, for example, grazed everywhere: there were 350,000 sheep in Massachusetts alone. Today flocks of sheep are rare, with the Massachusetts census at only 8,000. In contrast, consumption remains high: Massachusetts consumes 19 million pounds of lamb and mutton annually and has the highest per capita consumption rate in the country.
The decline in production and the attrition of farm acreage began soon after the Civil War with the opening of the great, flat grazing lands of the midwest and west, where efficient mass production techniques could be applied...Two other pressures accelerating the move out of sheep production were the new federal and state regulations brought into being to handle the huge slaughterhouses in the midwest, and the problem of predators. The new slaughterhouse regulations forced small regional and local slaughterhouses, which served farmers in outlying rural areas, to close, since they could not afford to comply with the costly requirements. This made it difficult and finally impossible for producers on family farms to slaughter their own animals for sale. Roving packs of domestic dogs and coyotes have been a traditional problem, and now represent a major obstacle to the expansion of the sheep industry.
The tide of this century-long decline has recently begun to reverse, mainly because of the rising cost of energy, which is bringing about the return to economic importance of an agriculture with greater land productivity and energy efficiency. We now recognize more clearly that land is not limitless; petrochemical fertilizers are increasing in price; big machines are expensive to run (and maintain and replace); transportation, now almost exclusively by truck, is extremely costly and becoming more so every year. As a result, the comparative economic advantage of the west's large-scale agriculture is decreasing rapidly. (p.1)
Because of these developments, New England's small and part-time farmers are in an improving position to undertake a renewal of their traditional brand of efficient farming...But several major obstacles have developed over the last fifty years of depressed agriculture that must be overcome if any revitalization is to take place. A revised sheep industry faces at least three:
1. The types of sheep that have become established in the United States during this century have been bred for large farm and western range conditions. They are not suitable for taking advantage of the very different terrain, climate, and small farm conditions of New England.
2. With the attrition of farm acreage and its reversion to forest, the eastern coyote has returned to the New England countryside; also, the number of domestic dogs hunting and harrassing sheep has multiplied dangerously. In combination, these two types of predators now represent the major obstacle to a revived sheep industry.
3. The cost of feed has risen to the point where the only economic way to raise small flocks of sheep and herds of other livestock is to graze them. At present the lack of research on suitable high-protein forage crops is an obstacle to a widespread substitution of forage for grain feed.
To make possible a full-scale return to a highly productive, widespread, and self-sufficient regional agriculture, thorough investigation of obstacles like these and demonstration of practicable ways to overcome them are needed soon...To help set in motion the needed investigation and demonstration, specific programs are required in which research is coordinated. Properly organized and connected to the surrounding region through cooperative extension, such programs could get this important task underway...(p.2-3)
2. The New England Farm Center at Hampshire College
Hampshire College proposes to establish the prototype of an agricultural center and to link this to an undergraduate program in agricultural studies.
In early 1979, provided sufficient funding has been secured, the New England Farm Center at Hampshire College will begin operation on a several hundred acre farm at the northern end of the College campus in South Amherst. The center will be dual in function. First, it will be engaged in investigation, demonstration, and extension to assist New England farmers in addressing the major obstacles to a revived agricultural economy. In this role, the center will be formally associated with the New England Cooperative Extension network. Second, it will also be the nucleus of an undergraduate educational program in agriculture, through which the Hampshire College faculty (and its distinguished visiting faculty) who constitute the center's personnel will introduce students to the study and practice of natural science by means of agriculture. Students will carry out individual and group projects in applied agriculture on the demonstration farm, which will serve as the educational program's laboratory in addition to being the center's facility for research.
The first assignment the center will undertake is a program aimed at contributing to the revival of sheep farming. To our knowledge, the program will be the first of its kind to integrate a variety of efforts to overcome the three principle obstacles we have identified. The center will be engaged in the development of cross breeds of sheep particularly suited to the climatic and natural forage conditions of New England and the prevalence of small farms here; it will be engaged in the breeding and training of selected varieties of European livestock-guarding dogs, which offer inexpensive and ecologically sound protection against predation by coyotes and domestic dogs; and it will be engaged in the development of alternative varieties of forage and the investigation of common New England woodland and roadside plants to assess their nitrogen-fixing ability, palatability, and nutritional value.
Sheep are efficient on marginal land, producing high quality meat without grain supplements and supplying meat and wool. Farmers trying to raise sheep in twentieth-century New England need hardy breeds, adapted to local climate and forage conditions. Most U.S. commercial sheep flocks have undergone stringent selection against twinning, because twins do not survive well on large western ranges. On a small New England farm, however, twin lambs have a much greater chance of survival. Twinning is a good example of a single genetic trait, relatively easy to select for, which provides a significant difference in productivity...(p.4)
Professor Slater, a former sheep farmer, has already been offered stock of several minor breeds, collected and bred in the U.S. by the American Minor Breeds Conservancy, Old Sturbridge Village, and by individuals. Continued trials of these breeds and travel to other parts of the world where sheep are raised under conditions similar to those of New England will be an important part of the center's activities.
Livestock Dog Project
Wild canids, whether wolves, coyotes, foxes, or dingos, have always taken their toll of sheep on every continent. Recently, the population of large, free-ranging wild and domestic canids in the United States has increased rapidly, and the damage they have done to New England's small flocks and to the range flocks in the west has been devastating. The erection of dog-proof fences is usually prohibitively expensive, and it is useless for protecting livestock whose major value lies in their ability to range widely over marginal lands. In the western states, poisoning programs have drawn bitter criticism; resulting legislation has, in turn, been followed by an increase in the number of coyote and wolf attacks. Eliminating wolves or coyotes is not a satisfactory answer on either practical or ethical grounds. It also disrupts the balance of nature, permitting population explosions of rodents and other small animals that are considered vermin in agriculture and that often compete for forage with domestic animals.
European shepherds have traditionally relied upon partnership with livestock-guarding dogs, which often wear spiked collars, to deter wolves or bear. Most of these breeds have been selected for their ability to work with minimal human guidance. The canid specialist at Hampshire College, Professor Ray Coppinger, believes that independent guarding dogs represent the most economical and efficient way to protect sheep and other livestock...
Professor Coppinger has selected different breeding stocks for different conditions such as climate and range. He intends to breed and train the dogs for their particular advantages on New England farms and has already begun to place them on small New England sheep ranches suffering from canid predation. Farmers throughout New England have volunteered for trials with these dogs. (p.5-6)
Part of any future success with sheep will depend on improved economically feasible methods of providing feed and pasture land for the flocks...New methods of planting and cultivating leguminous forage crops can be developed for use in those New England fields that are not considred productive by large-scale agricultural practices. As is the case with most U.S. sheep-breeding programs, improvements in forage have been concentrated around the needs of the western rangelands. It is not known whether this knowledge is applicable to New England; during the past fifty years, no one has tried to apply it here.
Professor John Torrey of Harvard University's Cabot Foundation for Botanical Research, in nearby Petersham, believes that new methods of planting and cultivating nitrogen-fixing forage plants can have profitable results for New England farmers...Among his priorities will be the planting of legumes in with other feed crops, and the use of symbiotic nitrogen-fixing, non-leguminous brush species such as alders, autumn and Russian olives, and similar nitrogen-fixing shrubs, for longer-term upgrading of pastures. Methods developed for improved forage in major sheep-raising countries like New Zealand and parts of Europe will be adapted to New England climate and growing conditions. (p.6-7)
Production, Distribution, and Marketing Project
Any proposal to expand the sheep industry in New England must address the need for more than the two existing government-inspected slaughterhouses, and for rebuilding the now largely inadequate local/regional marketing and distribution system. This is a fourth area study, which is still under preliminary analysis but which is likely at some early stage in the development of the center's program to evolve into a fourth investigation project...
...The center is envisioned as an ongoing enterprise whose individual programs change from one three-year period to the next, but whose overall purpose, the revitalization of New England agriculture and the re-introduction of agriculture into the undergraduate science curriculum, remains constant...(p.8)
The Hampshire Forest
Recommendations Concerning the Uses of Hampshire College's Land. Prepared by Ralph Lutts, Doug Riggs. Oct. 26, 1979
Hampshire's property embraces an extraordinary variety of fields and forests. Its very diversity suggests that it can and should be used for many different purposes. Due to lack of time, our survey was necessarily somewhat cursory. Our specific recommendations are therefore tentative and subject to change in the light of further discussion by the entire Hampshire community...We have here a priceless living laboratory. It should be devoted primarily to enriching our present and future teaching programs. (Cover letter)
Area A. This is a very wet red maple swamp with practically no drainage. If we could secure a right-of-way to this area from South Maple St., considerable cordwood could be harvested in dry weather...
Area B. This area is principally occupied by a broad low ridge of coarse sand and gravel containing an abundance of rounded stones, and covered by only a thin layer of topsoil. It is divided by a roughly east-west wire fence which in places is grounded or obscure.
North of that fence, to the west, is a young, somewhat open forest dominated by pin oak and red maple with an admixture of red oak. It is bordered on the west by a stand of hemlock. To the east, the maple and oak is interspersed with a few white pine and considerable pitch pine...
Just south of the fence is a thicket of young grey birch, pin oak saplings, and a few larger pin oak and white pine. Still farther to the south are the remains of an old apple orchard interspersed with the same scrubby growth, including patches of juniper and one or two small areas of denuded sand. A narrow trail leads roughly north-east through this portion. (p.2)
Area C. This is the large area of extremely diverse forest through which Bubble Brook flows in a northerly direction. The Physical Fitness/Nature Trail forms a long loop roughly paralleling the brook on both sides and providing easy access to many spots of natural beauty and scientific interest...(p.3)
Area F. This a a small part of the forest north of the Bubble where one of the dominant trees is sugar maple. In past years, students have tapped some of these and have boiled down the sap in a small shed, now in poor condition.
We recommend, first, a careful survey of the sugar maple area so as to define its borders more carefully; second, selective harvesting of other species to convert the stand to pure "sugar bush" and to supply firewood for sugaring off; and third, rehabilitation of the sugar house so that in the future students can study the science and enjoy the art of collecting and processing maple sap. (p.4-5)
Area I. In its northeast quadrant this forest contains a variety of ancient trees, including white and red oaks, black birch, black gum, shag-bark hickory and hemlock. Through the middle of the area runs the abrupt edge of a low sandy ridge, with a few beech and white pine mingled with the oaks, birches and hemlocks...Because of the many ancient "specimen" trees it contains, and because it is traversed by a good road, we strongly recommend that this entire area be set aside as a small arboretum to be managed so as to preserve and display the variety of trees already present and to afford space for the planting of selected other species. With these objectives in view, a network of paths designed to pass through regions of particular interest should be laid out, and highly limited selective cutting should be used to encourage the growth and survival of particular trees. (p.5-6)
Area L. These wetlands contain a small pond, useful for field studies, and the swampy areas above and below the pond. A small portion between the entrance drive and the red maple forest (Area K) is almost boggy with abundant spagnum moss...(p.7)
Area M. This area consists of small plantations of white pine, red pine, and a few spruce. The plantations are now crowded and badly in need of thinning. In the southern tip of the red pine plantation many of the trees are dead or dying for reasons not known to us.
We recommend that these plantations be managed according to good forestry practices. They are the only conifer plantations owned by Hampshire; it would be a shame to let them die of neglect. Properly cared for, they should eventually pay for themselves in marketable sawlogs. (p.7)
Area Q. This long narrow strip runs through the forest on the north slope of the Holyoke Range. Its western boundary passes just east of the summit of Mt. Tinker and ends on the crest of the range just east of the summit of Mt. Hitchcock. It comprises a variety of habitats including cliffs and talus slopes. In places the commonest woody plant is the American chestnut, whose numerous root-sprouts perpetuate the chestnut blight. We strongly recommend that this entire strip be retained as an unmanaged natural area. (p.8)
Photograph of the Hampshire Forest
Hampshire College Landscape Study
Amherst, Massachusetts. Conway School of Landscape Design, Inc. May 1983.
The Origin of the Project
As part of its effort to respond to the increasing demographic pressures facing American higher education, Hampshire College conducted a ten-year evaluation of its program and methods. Of particular relevance is the suggestion made in the Krukowski Report, submitted in September 1982, that prospective students and parents, and guidance counselors, may be misunderstanding the College's purpose and character and may be erroneously concluding that Hampshire College is allowing itself to lower its standards.
Since reputation for quality is the critical factor in college selection, these misperceptions present substantial constraints for the recruitment of new students.
With this concern in mind Hampshire College began to evaluate the state of its physical campus as an expression of its own character. The College wishes to be certain that the campus environment is visually appropriate to and in support of its academic mission.
Allen Torrey, treasurer of the College, first contacted the Conway School of Landscape Design in March 1982. Along with the need for a long-range master landscape plan, a concern was expressed that Hampshire College remain committed to the concept of open space and appropriate natural relationships between developed land and agricultural land. Coupled with this consciousness for the value and preservation of the surrounding farmland was a feeling by some of the administrative group at Hampshire that the "close-in" campus is presently rather lifeless and incoherent in appearance. (p.vi)
The spatial organization of the campus is largely defined by the fact that approximately half the developed campus lies on a barren hill top and the other half lies within the surrounding woodland. Thus, the central core, which should be the most distinctive place on campus, is only partially defined by the Crown Center, Johnson Center, and Cole Science Center. This lack of definition creates a serious sense of incompleteness and disorientation, and contributes to the lack of impact the central core makes on arrival.
This poor spatial character is exacerbated by the inconsistency of Enfield House being open to view, while the remaining residential villages are concealed by woodland vegetation. Enfield visually conflicts with the central core by detracting from its importance and creates further disorientation because no clear hierarchy exists between the core and Enfield.
The wet, wooded area south of the central core also detracts from the central core by a similar inconsistency. The existence of such a large, wooded area of undesignated use so close to the physical and psychological campus center lessens the impact of the center, first because the wooded area is not clearly segregated from its surroundings; and, second, because the apparent, or presumed, uses of the area conflict with the uses of the campus center.
Besides the basic dichotomy in the two areas (hilltop and woods), the campus also suffers from a severe lack of small, intimate gathering spaces, especially at the central core.
The amount of large barren open space and more intimate, comfortable outdoor spaces contrast drastically with 280 acres of the campus, only seven acres--two per cent of the entire campus--are useful outdoor spaces during the academic year...The need for more comfortable, private outdoor spaces that do not provide feelings of alienation and sterility is acute. (p.16)
Spatial Organization: Recommended
Stronger spatial definition of the central core is required to magnify its importance as the distinct, visually orienting feature of the larger campus.
This definition can be achieved by clearing some of the area south of the central core. Done subtly and properly, some clearing of that area will create a more usable area that will complement and enhance the central core.
The central core needs a distinctive feature that will give it a stronger sense of containment and purpose. More important, such a feature will give the core a sense of completeness.
Stronger spatial definition can also be achieved by restricting the space along the north side of the entry drive, and by enclosing Enfield behind massed vegetation. These changes would make the central core the distinct focus upon arrival. In addition, maintaining and framing views would build on the existing good views from the central c.
More small, intimate, sun-oriented gathering spaces need to be developed throughout the campus. The drawing on the next page illustrates some of these spatial concepts and locates key nodes with toned circles, where gathering space could logically be developed. (p.18)
Natural Factors: Existing
The category of natural factors could include all of the various elements of the outside environment. However, for the purposes of this study, we intend to analyze the major natural factors affecting the Hampshire College Campus and its users: wind, sun, and water.
The campus, sited on a broad open plateau, commands views of the surrounding Holyoke Range. However, the range is well away from the campus, and much of it is barren. Of the factors that affect the user of the campus, wind is the most serious problem, especially during the winter months. In our interviews we found that students consistently remarked on the cold winds, winds close to buildings as the most severe. In the central core particularly, the spaces between buildings (Cole, Johnson, and Crown) create wind tunnels that intensify the discomfort.
Sun, or rather the lack of it, is also a major concern for the users of the campus. Some areas, e.g., the central core, Dakin-Merrill Housing, and Patterson Hall have been designed to take advantage of the southern sun exposure. However, most of the building complexes effectively ignore the potential of the sun for added warmth and light. For example, the entrance to Dickinson Hall is on the north side and is cold and dark most of the year, while the south, the most logical place for gathering, is relatively unused. Similarly, the entry and major plaza of Longsworth is oriented to the north, while a relatively unused area exists at the side entrance from the parking lot. The recessed plaza in Longsworth is, however, an excellent sun pocket. Enfield has few protected spaces oriented to the south and few windows oriented for solar gain. Prescott House has some sunny locations, but is generally dark and shady--especially the tavern, which is oriented to the north; consequently, the terrace is unused except on very warm days.
Standing water on the Hampshire campus is not a major concern, since most areas drain well. Enfield House, however, does incur major drainage problems in the spring. Recommendations have been made in the residential analysis. Elsewhere, where problems do occur, they can be easily remedied by the circulation and paving recommendations in this report. The red maple swamp by Longsworth could be viewed as a drainage problem, since it is the highest elevation on campus and currently collects standing water. However, it does not appear to be a major problem in the respect that is does not impede or present a hazard to pedestrian circulation. In fact, this area is a desirable habitat for wetland vegetation and wild life.
In summary, the concerns arising from natural factors are the exposed and barren areas, particularly in the central core, that are uncomfortable to the campus user due to the harsh winter winds, and the lack of warmth and light from the sun. (p.26)
Natural Factors: Recommended
The proposals to ameliorate the harsh natural factors of the Hampshire College campus include, where possible, windscreens of medium sized native vegetation; architectural screens, such as wood baffles and glass and steel partitions; defining areas that can take advantage of sun potential; and developing a pond to enhance the existing wet area by creating more visual interest and inviting more use of the area.
Vegetation windscreens of evergreen trees and native deciduous shrubs and trees should be planted close to the buildings that have major wind problems. Dense plantings can reduce winds up to 75% for a distance to leeward of up to five times the height of the planting. The width of the screen is not as important as its height. Therefore, dense plantings are proposed for the "wind tunnels" of Cole, Johnson, and Crown. The plantings should run perpendicular to the prevailing winter wind. In addition, architectural assistance can complement the vegetative wind screens, e.g., wood baffles, glass and steel barriers, and even enclosed protection between Cole and Johnson. However, the views between these buildings should not be drastically restricted.
The open areas surrounding the central core could be planted with natural vegetation screens to limit winds where possible and to reduce the barrenness of these open spaces. Obviously, these must maintain the views, and not segment or disconnect the campus any more than necessary.
In order to capture as much of the potential sun as possible the southeast areas of Dickinson, Enfield, Dakin-Merrill, and Longsworth can be defined with native plantings and site furniture (benches, tables) to encourage the use of these areas for sitting, eating, gathering, or even outdoor classrooms.
A pond will enhance the red maple "swamp". However, while the pond should seem to be connected to the "swamp", it should remain separate to protect the existing ecosystem.
In summary, in order to lessen the harsh winter environment of the Hampshire College Campus and allow students and visitors to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible throughout the year, vegetative windscreens and architectural complements to lessen the impact of the cold winter winds should be used. The development of protected sunny areas where there is presently untapped solar potential will invite residents and visitors outdoors. (p.28)
Undesignated Use Areas:
The undesignated use areas consist of 135 acres, or approximately half the central campus. They are located in quadrants on the periphery of the central core and are interspersed within the developed campus areas. The forms are various but largely consist of soft masses with flowing edges that conform to roadway edges and buildings.
These areas can be divided into two specific categories: open spaces of mown grass and hay, and dense deciduous woodlands with lush second-generation growth. The size of these areas, and the fact that they have no specific use, contributes to a feeling of alienation and confusion in the visitor and user of the campus. The areas become barriers which divide and segment the cohesion of the campus.
The general recommendations for these areas aim to open up some of the denser woodlands surrounding the central campus to allow visual and physical access to the woods. The woodland then becomes part of, rather than separate from, the campus. Appropriate white pines and native deciduous shrubs can be planted in clusters to create partial screens and smaller spaces to help alleviate the extreme barren and open feelings of these spaces.
However, the open spaces allow views of the Holyoke Range from the center of the campus, and the plantings must be arranged to preserve these views. (p.32)
The Entry Drive
The woodland along the west side of the entry drive is developing into a strong uniform edge, so clearing of the type proposed for the above mentioned woodland site is not appropriate. However, this edge should be cleared enough to create a dramatic undulation along the drive rather than the parallel that presently exists. At the point where the drive turns to meet the loop road, natural plantings are recommended to continue across on the other side of the road to the east bank to create a gateway to the central campus...Trees in rows along the northeast side of the drive should be transplanted into masses and encouraged to form clumps similar to the masses in the meadows near the drive. Grass near the entry drive should be allowed to grow to hay yet a mown strip should be maintained to prevent an unkempt appearance. The idea is to allow the natural context to grow closer to the driveway edge and create a more indulating less geometrical mown strip...
Open undesignated use zones are to be left as they are. The area considered for planting is the open space south of Enfield House, that is bounded by the entry drive, loop road, and the secondary loop road, and which is approximately six acres in size. This broad, open space and the view of Enfield competes with the campus core for visual attention. The original concept was to enclose the Residential Villages in woodland to clearly orient the visitor to the campus core. Accordingly, this area should be planted with a partial screen of white pines and native deciduous trees. These trees would form a visually appealing structure while allowing natural successional growth to occur in and around the framework...The entire area would eventually come to resemble the surrounding woodland, but would allow visual access into and through these plantings. The idea is to create man-made order in natural surroundings. (p.36-37)
The Popcorn Prince Remembers
Clifford W. Putney. Apostrophe, March 9, 1984, p.2.
Not many people on campus know (or possibly care about) the derivation of the words "Warner House," the official designation for that inconveniently located farmhouse turned office building near the entrance to Hampshire College. Interestingly enough, however, the building's namesake, the original Mr. Warner, still resides in the old saltbox colonial just across the street from the admissions building. Students en route to Amherst pass his house every day. Suspecting that Warner could relate many spell-binding anecdotes should he care to do so, this reporter, armed with an Atkins rhubarb pie, trotted down the Hampshire driveway to seek out Mr. Warner's life story.
Richard Warner, whose distinctly puritanical visage has earned him the affectionate nickname of "Deacon," was born on his maternal grandparents' farm in Northfield in 1917, as he says, "just in time to keep father out of the army." His father, a cracker salesman, peddled cookies and crackers throughout the hill towns ringing the Connecticut Valley. Later, he became a salesman for the H.M. Fish Candy Company in Springfield. Deacon grew up in Springfield, although he spent his vacations on the Northfield farm. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1940, married, and went to work for Uniroyal. He and his wife Priscilla, who "flew the coop" several years ago, moved to the Amherst area soon after the end of World War II to escape from the crowded living conditions in Chicopee. They bought the present Warner House in 1953 from a family named Gilmore, and established a small, eleven-acre farm. "I kept a cow, raised a one-half acre garden, and had a one acre orchard," remembers Deacon. "A lot of our land was swamp. I was what you'd call a gentleman farmer."
Mr. Warner vividly recalls the beginnings of Hampshire College, acknowledging that "[its building] was a big attraction around here." Deacon and his good friend Bob Stiles, along with other country folks, watched intently as first wooden and then brick structures sprang up on what used to be the Stiles Farm, and closely monitored the workers' progress. Deacon especially remembers climbing the thirty-foot makeshift tower the trustees had erected on what is now the site of Cole Science Center. The trustees hoped that the sweeping view from the tower would inspire people to contribute money towards the construction of the college.
Early in the building stage, the Warners were approached by Charles Longsworth, second president of Hampshire College, who entreated them to sell their strategically located property to the school. Deacon was reluctant to do so at first. He little relished the prospect of pulling up his roots and moving into town, away from the salubrious atmosphere of the countryside. Moreover, how could he leave when such an exciting development was taking place right on his very doorstep?
While the Warners deliberated, Longsworth arranged the purchase of the nearby Hayward Farm from the widow of Ralph Hayward, a man who was born and lived in the farmhouse until the age of ninety-three. As Mrs. Warner, a devoted antiquarian, had always coveted the classic saltbox built around 1770 and the fourth oldest standing house in Amherst, an amicable arrangement was made whereby the Warners would sell their farm in return for a guaranteed lifetime residency in the Hayward place. The switch was not made without difficulties, but with the help of Hampshire's lawyer, Winthrop S. Dakin, and contractor Nelson Ingram, the move was completed. Agnes Hayward, incidentally, still survives, and is living in an Amherst elderly housing project. "I went up to see her in the hospital," recollected Deacon; "All she kept asking was 'When can I go home, I want to go home.' She still thinks of this place as her home."
Now that he's had the opportunity to observe Hampshire College for over fourteen years, Deacon Warner still has grounds to speak highly of the institution and its students. "Hampshire College is extraordinary--extraordinary!" ejaculated Deacon. "Its concept of education is altogether different from other schools." Deacon thinks that Hampshire is a marvelous school for ambitious youths who know what they want to do and where they want to go. "All the Hampshire College students I've known were self-starters," he said, adding, "Unless you've got a lot of gumption and don't waste any time, you're not going to make it. And if you don't make it, you are the only one to blame. You can't pin your failure on anyone else." Because of the difficulty students face in formulating their own curriculum and helping to set their academic standards, Deacon calls Hampshire "the hardest school in the world to graduate from."
When this reporter interviewed Deacon, he was puttering around in his cluttered, dimly-lit kitchen, preparing a fabulous supper consisting of tomatoes, squash, corn, parsnips, and jerusalem artichokes from his garden, baked chicken, baked beans, and baked cinnamon apples. He magnanimously invited me to partake in the sumptuous feast, and set me to work clearing off a rustic table piled high with newspapers, photo albums, and broken crockery. An intriguing jumble of old tools, busted machinery, and battered furniture filled the ancient house from top to bottom, giving it the appearance of a smuggler's den.
Deacon's cooking prowess and popcorn-growing hobby have won him the honorary title of Pancake and Popcorn Prince from the South Amherst Congregational Church (where he really is a deacon). He and his sons used to pop up bags of corn during Sunday School classes. "The smell of popping corn would waft up into the sanctuary," chuckles Deacon, "and the minister would have trouble concentrating on his sermon." Deacon's special variety of red kernel popcorn has helped him achieve minor celebrity status. The television program "20/20" aired an interview with him several months ago, and he still receives numerous letters from newspapers and radio stations asking for more information about the Popcorn Prince.