Farm chores pave the way for Holcomb Farm worker’s future career

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Michelle Dingivan mans the check-out at the Holcomb Farm Store.
Photo by Shirley Murtha

Although she wasn’t born here, Holcomb Farm employee Michelle Dingivan’s childhood memories were set in Granby, for she was only three years old when her family moved here from Hluboka, Czechia. One of those early memories was a third-grade field trip to what was then the educational center at the Farm.

She came to know more about the Farm when a high school friend began working there after graduation from Granby Memorial High School in 2019, but she was off to the University of Hartford. Three semesters in, she realized it wasn’t fulfilling her needs, and she began a degree program with Maharishi International University for a Bachelor of Arts in Ayurvedic Wellness.

Ayurvedic is a holistic medicine from India that focuses on digestion of seasonally appropriate foods, along with the use of herbals and massage. When she saw an Instagram post that Holcomb Farm was looking for employees in the summer of 2021, she realized this was a perfect fit for her. Within a week she was working full-time in the fields. These days, you can also find her filling in for the girls who staff the Farm Store, sometimes for just their lunch break, sometimes for their days off.

In addition to the farm work going hand-in-hand with her studies, Michelle likes being able to be outside every day and to bring home the freshest produce possible. She truly appreciates having a job that brings so much good to others. She notes, “There are many moments when I cannot believe I am able to dedicate effort to feeding people nutritionally vibrant foods. Both the CSA and Fresh Access programs cause such happiness and joy from the recipients. It’s a blessing to me that, as a young person, I can be a part of something that is directly improving other people’s lives.”

That said, there are times on the job when it’s not actually delightful for Michelle. Top contenders in this category are hoeing squash on blazing hot July days and spreading hay mulch, another day-long chore. Michelle says, “Both these tasks have the power to turn my smile upside down…but at the end of these difficult days, I am still a positive person.” She likes to call these hard parts of farm work “character builders.”

Unfortunately for Holcomb Farm, Michelle will be leaving soon, as she will take a break from the Maharishi University program to attend a 6-month accelerated massage therapy school in Costa Rica beginning in January. Upon her return from that, she hopes to have an internship at an Ayurvedic Farm in Oregon that grows bioregional medicinal plants, including herbs.

During the few hours of “down time” that a farming job allows, Michelle enjoys swimming in the Salmon Brook or walking in Granby’s many nature preserves. When inclement weather keeps her indoors, she might be found painting, arranging flowers, sewing, making a collage or doing crochet or embroidery.

In addition to her parents, she has an older brother, Dylan, who is “the person who makes me laugh harder than anyone else.” Well, anyone who meets Michelle in the Farm Store will come away with a smile on their face, for she is a delightful addition to the Farm experience.