Rise Up

Jessica Larkin-Wells smiling broadly and holding loaves of sourdough bread while standing outdoors at Spring Valley Student Farm

Larkin-Wells with some of her bread at the Spring Valley Student Farm this summer.

“On Saturday night, we rake the coals in the oven to spread them evenly across the oven floor, and then close the door,” says Jessica Larkin-Wells ’19 (CLAS) of her side hustle baking bread at a pizzeria after it closes. “Because it’s wood fired, and because it’s a very well insulated oven, it maintains its heat the next day, so we don’t have to add any energy; it’s already hot.”

A sociology graduate, Larkin-Wells honed her abilities as a breadmaker through UConn’s Sustainable Community Food Systems minor — a unique and intensive interdisciplinary program that combines theory and practice through service learning and hands-on experience with community partners. Larkin-Wells, interim manager of Spring Valley Student Farm, bakes her bread at a pizza shop in Guilford after it closes for the weekend, largely using freshly milled, organic, and heritage grain flours from a producer in Maine. On Sundays, a gathering of people in the know come to the shop to purchase the 40 or so just-baked loaves while the bread is fresh and soft and warm. “When I can make a really big loaf of bread for a group of people and know that it’s all going to get eaten that day, it’s all going to get eaten fresh — that’s my favorite kind of bread to make,” she says. Like farming, breadmaking has brought her skills that go far beyond forming loaves, she says — teaching her to be “infinitely attentive” to what she’s doing and the world around her.

By jaclyn severance
Photo by Peter Morenus

'Learning by doing' means baking bread, growing vegetables, and working for justice

Chloe Murphy '20 working at the Cottage Street Community Garden in New London Connecticut on Sept. 10, 2021.
Photo By

Sean Flynn

Chloe Murphy ’20 working at the Cottage Street Community Garden in New London on Sept. 10, 2021.

Lauren Haff harvesting flowers in her garden on Sept. 13, 2021.
Photo By

Sean Flynn

Lauren Haff harvesting flowers in her garden on Sept. 13, 2021.

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Further Reading:

Sustainability, Community, and Food – Theory Meets Action for UConn Undergrads

UConn Today

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Learn More:

The Sustainable Community Food Systems at UConn

evst.uconn.edu/sustainable-community-food-systems-minor

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