Each year, Verde Valley School students and faculty get the opportunity to work on traditional farms on the Hopi Indian Reservation. The trips, organized by anthropology teacher Leigh Carter, occur during the fall harvest or spring planting seasons.
The most recent Hopi Work Weekend was a spring planting at a very remote farm at the head of a canyon near the abandoned village of Awotovi. This farm is blessed with natural spring water, which has been used by Native peoples for thousands of years, and was developed into a holding tank by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.
Students enjoyed the hard work of moving a stone bread oven, collecting spring water, clearing and leveling soil for terraced gardens, and soaking and planting bean fields. They camped and worked in very windy conditions. They learned that they had participated in a “Naya”, the Hopi concept of reciprocity in which someone hosts a big project and then feeds all who participate in the work. The VVS labor consisted of 9 students and 3 faculty, who all reaped the reward of traditional Hopi meals alongside modern, vegetarian, organic cooking.
Lucky for them, host Dorothy Dinet is not only a traditional farmer, but happens to be a modern food caterer! Dorothy is also a story-teller and family matriarch in the Butterfly Clan and the all-female VVS crew was inspired by her life and work.
Dorothy remembers a time many decades ago when she hosted VVS students studying under Cliff Perkins, who served as US History and English teacher; Dean of Students; Director of Summer Camps, and Field Trip Leader. He and the Class of 1966 built the endearing Thoreau Hut on the school grounds, a legacy that remains today as a place where students can reconnect with peace and solitude. Cliff’s wife, Marguerite (Maggie) Perkins has just celebrated her 95th birthday. She was the English and Theatre teacher at VVS between 1955-1989.
Check out more photos of the weekend….