In February of 2021, motivated in part by the pandemic and its impact on the arts ecology, long-time colleagues Nuria Bowart and Jared Williams purchased a vacant country Inn in Rockingham, Vermont [unceded abenaki territory].
Built in the mid-90's as the 'Madrigal Inn' the large timber frame building was later known as the Inn at Cranberry Farm and later as the Yagna Inn, before it was vacated - standing empty for several years.
Sitting on over 48 acres of forest and pasture, the property currently consists of a 10k square foot main building able to house up to 25 people, a smaller building built to house up to 3 staff members, as well as a small pond and substantial river frontage. Both professional artists, Jared and Nuria had both been separately imagining spaces where performance and dance artists could be supported in both their studio practices and their teaching, while living sustainably and cooperatively with the land. After several lengthy discussions, they decided to join forces to build something with one another.
Throughout the summer of 2021 an instrumental group of volunteers gathered here and helped us renovate the space and lay grounds for the future programming to come. We are eternally grateful to our dedicated summer 2021 staff of Sydney Lemelin, Anya Smolnikova, Lindell Dixon, Rachel Saudek, Simon Thomas-Train, Michael JMK, Justis Hatch, Lindsey Jennings, and Liesje Smith for all their love and labor at such a crucial time.
Jared and Nuria were joined by several people in the first 24 months of the project that were vital to the survival and development of the Field Center. These founding staff built the systems and structures still in use today and are as much a part of the foundation of this project as anyone. They are:
Sydney Lemelin [March - December of 2021]
Sydney joined as an ‘assistant’ in February of 2021 just after the property had been purchased. She worked on-site throughout the spring and summer of 2021 to clean and renovate the building and grounds and co-manage the summer volunteer programs. In the process she built our foundational registration structures/welcome packets/liability forms and played a huge role in the physical design of the space. Sydney also built the first website and helped steward our initial ‘Feasibility Study', developing marketing and budget tools for us that we still use today.
From administration to event facilitation to hands-on labor, Sydney's energy, ideas and vitality were a huge part the beginnings of the project.
Anya Smolnikova [June 2021 - Present]
Involved with the project from idea to present, Anya took part in many of the early conceptual discussions and the Field Center logo was developed from her drawings and ideas.
She co-managed the 2021 volunteer sessions, painted the mural in our dining room, and developed the vast majority of the systems and structures we still use to orient and manage life in the ‘main building’ .
She also helped create many of fundamental systems we use to keep the spaces clean and organized. In the fall of 2022, Anya took on development of the Long Term Work Exchange Program, which she continues to direct today.
Rachel Anne Saudek [April 2021 - October 2021]
Rachel designed and implemented the development of the garden along with Nuria.
Living on-site for the bulk of 2021, they broke ground on the initial garden plot, helped coordinate the building of the raised beds and trellises, co-stewarded the crop-plans and food needs for the first year and implemented Nuria’s designs as a consultant and collaborator - helping to plant and cultivate many of the fruit trees, berry patches and garden structures that feed us to this day.
Graham ‘Teddy’ Olmstead [October 2021 - May 2022]
Joining us in October of our first year, ‘Teddy’ worked as a carpenter and maintenance person doing repairs and renovations throughout the main building and grounds. Among other things, Teddy renovated the entire basement, completing our lower studios and bringing the building to code. He built our Greenhouse and our campers lean-to and our outdoor shower among many other projects. His work can be felt throughout the property and we could not have done much of what we have without his labor.
Lilianna Kane [November 2021 - Present]
Lily began as a chef for our first ‘official’ program in November of 2021 and later joined us on-site as full time staff in the spring of 2022. Creating the ‘culture’ of the kitchen and working closely with Nuria to develop menus and meal-plans that synchronized with our crops and harvest times, she has been the driving force in creating relationships with local vendors and farmers.
She also developed, and still manages, the Work Trade Program and developed the schedules and systems we use to prep, cook, and organize our kitchen both during events and between.