By Sue Li
A chain of three ducks waddles across the pen as a boy reaches out his hands to touch one and narrowly dodges a group of chickens frantically fleeing a camera-wielding first grader. Neither a child nor a parent, I feel out of place in the middle of this hectic petting zoo — one of the top attractions at Common Ground, a high school, urban farm, and environmental education center located just three miles northwest of Yale’s campus.
At first glance, Common Ground’s forested trails, cabin-like buildings, and welcoming atmosphere remind me of my childhood’s endless summer days, long hikes, and midnight s’mores-making around an open campfire. Founded by a group of parents, teachers, and environmentalists looking to educate the New Haven community, Common Ground welcomes visitors to the farm for various seasonal festivals, hiking trips, and Open Farm Days every year. This season’s biggest event is Winterfest, a celebration of winter’s long-overdue end through learning about maple sugaring, the process of making maple syrup. Winterfest’s modest $8 entrance fee goes to support Common Ground’s other community programs.