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INTERNSHIP AUGUST Spotlight Post #5: Playing Music for Sprouts

August 26, 2014

With the new school year upon us, it’s time to wrap up Internship August. There’s no better place to end than with WRUV DJ Lilly Xian enjoying her role as a college student helping entertain and educate tots so tiny that they’re still pre-students.


  • WRUV DJ Lilly Xian

    WRUV DJ Lilly Xian

    The position: Community Music Intern

  • The company: Music for Sprouts
  • The place: Bread and Butter Farm in Shelburne, Vermont

This summer has been delicious, to say the least.

Week after week, as the sun bakes the lake and the harvest fills our bellies, the “sprouts” at Bread and Butter Farm keep me energized and nourished.

At the family-owned farm, Corie grows food, her partner Chris plays music with kids, Adam bakes bread, and Erik landscapes. The sprouts, or toddlers up to age three, and their families join Chris and me on the farm to celebrate their land and community during Burger Nights and Music for Sprouts, a music and movement class.

My involvement with Bread and Butter Farm began to unfold one winter evening when I agreed to accompany a friend to the Outdoor Gear Exchange, despite the urge to turn back and seek shelter from the pelting sleet. As I dawdled through the rows of wool socks, I spotted “Mister Chris,” as the sprouts call him, with two children, all of whom I recognized from the Music for Sprouts online media.

The encounter could not have been more timely, since I had planned to contact Chris before leaving soon thereafter for a semester-long trip. I approached him with my ideas about connecting people to their land, food system, and community through culture, specifically food and music. After a few Skype meetings throughout the spring, we arranged for me to join him in facilitating the Music for Sprouts classes and transforming the field at the farm into a music venue for the weekly Burger Nights.

Lilly Xian enjoys the Burger Night scene as Mister Chris tunes up to play the kids' set.

Lilly Xian enjoys the Burger Night scene as Mister Chris tunes up to play the kids’ set.

As we sing about pollinators, rain, and growing food, the gasps and giggles from toddlers season the hazy days with excitement. On a few occasions, we have ventured off the farm to play with children at an elementary school in upstate New York and the Middlebury Festival Off the Green. Regardless of the location, some children stand rooted and gaze attentively at us while others call out bird names, bobble in their parents’ arms, embrace other sprouts, or run off to reach prematurely for the bread snack.

The occasional skirmish over a ukulele stirs up conflict between kiddos, but so goes sharing among people of all ages.

Burger Night, which takes place each Friday from May to September, features beef, buns, greens, cookies, and beverages from the farm, crafts, and a band of the folk, bluegrass, or blues variety. I was in charge of setting up and operating the sound system for Burger Nights, which required repetition as well as extreme attention for the bands with over ten microphones.

Over the course of the summer, I have learned to run the system independently, which is especially valued on the busiest evenings. Aside from a few canceled nights due to predicted inclement weather, these Fridays have been the prime location for moonrises, shimmying boughs and children frolicking through the clover.

Coming up, we’ll head to the Catskill Mountains to play the Summer Hoot Festival at the Ashokan Center, which fosters place-based educational experiences in nature, history, and the arts. I’m looking forward to networking with these folks to develop ideas for the Music for Sprouts fall session curriculum, and to continue nourishing my own connection to this land, food system, and community.

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