Praying for an Indepdendent Life for Chloe Rombach

Family and friends of Chloe Rombach have learned to find hope in the smallest signs since the 22-year-old suffered a severe brain injury when she was struck by a car in December.

She can breathe on her own now. She opens her eyes. The family believes there are times when she might be making eye contact. Other times she moves her fingers or an arm a little when asked.

“We don’t know what level she’ll eventually reach,” said her father, Edward Rombach, 62, of Marblehead. “We’re just praying for the best possible outcome.”

He says the family is well aware they are in this for the long haul.

“The doctors keep saying, ‘this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon,’” Rombach said. “I fully expect to be deeply engaged in this for the rest of my life.”

Rombach said he and his family take heart from even the slightest indication of improvement.

“Whenever we have a toast,” Rombach said, pausing a moment to control his emotions, “we raise a glass and say, ‘To an independent life.’”

Chloe Rombach moved to western Massachusetts to attend UMass Amherst, graduating two years ago. Most recently, she lived on Bridge Street in Northampton. She was crossing the street in a crosswalk near her home when she was struck by a car on the night of Dec. 9.

No charges have been filed against the driver, Kenzie Kimble-Badgett, 18, of 8 Button Road in Easthampton. Police said after the accident that the dark and rain likely made for poor visibility, and that drugs and alcohol do not appear to have been factors in the accident.

Rombach was dragged by the car and pinned underneath for about 20 minutes while firefighters worked to move the vehicle. She was rushed to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.

“The evening of Dec. 9 and my wife and I were just finishing up dinner and there was a knock on the door. It was Marblehead police,” said her father. The officers communicated the information about the accident that Northampton Police had told them.

A nor’easter was dumping torrential rain on the state that night. “It was a three-hour drive in the driving rain, not knowing what we were going to find,” he said. “That was a horrific night.”

His daughter suffered third-degree burns and cuts in the accident, but her most serious injury is a diffuse axonal brain injury, according to her father. It is an injury affecting a large area of the brain that is caused by the brain moving back and forth inside the skull. In Chloe Rombach’s case, it caused life-threatening brain swelling.

Modest progress

In the days immediately after the accident, doctors at Baystate Medical Center performed a craniectomy to remove two sizable skull plates over her frontal cortex to relieve the pressure from the swelling, according to her father. Doctors also said it is likely her brain was further injured by oxygen deprivation while she was pinned under the car.

On Saturday, a neurological examination at Massachusetts General Hospital determined that Chloe Rombach is ready to have the surgery to put the skull plates back in, probably sometime in March. It’s another good sign, her parents believe.

“She’s making modest progress,” her father said.

She breathes on her own, though through a tracheotomy tube. She also has a feeding tube, and infections are always a risk, he said. She is visited by physical therapists, respiratory therapists, and many more specialists who try to help her along.

Rombach and his wife, Jeannie, visit Chloe every day at the rehabilitation hospital 10 minutes from their home. Edward Rombach, who is unemployed, said being at the hospital with his daughter is “my job now.”

Jeannie Rombach, 60, has been taking time off from her job as a special education teacher in Marblehead, though she will have to go back to work soon, according to her husband. Their older daughter, A.J. Rombach, an artist in Philadelphia, came back to Massachusetts the day after the accident and spent nine weeks with her sister, though she is now back home.

Community support

The family created a CaringBridge website where they post daily updates about Chloe’s condition for loved ones to read. Rombach said there seems to be an infinite number of sympathetic people, from friends of friends and co-workers to extended family members, who have offered “support, prayers, intentions and thoughts.” A friend started a crowdfunding website to collect donations for the family’s medical expenses, and it has raised over $33,207.

Rombach said he feels thankful to all the people who have extended help to the family. “That’s really what’s sustained us,” he said.

“When this happened I felt like I was pushed out the window of a high building and I was falling to my death. All the prayers, the meals that showed up, the people lending us cars and making donations, it was like a safety net keeping me from falling,” he said. “They were like angels lifting me up.”

Rombach said that one of the many reasons it is so hard to see his daughter in bed is that she was always so full of life.

“She was a very adventurous gal — sometimes enough to make us nervous,” he said.

After high school, she took a year off to spend time on ecosystem farms in Spain, Costa Rica and Brazil. Agriculture, especially organic and sustainable vegetable and fruit farming, was her passion.

“She saw this as an interesting possible career path,” Rombach said.

‘All things agriculture’

In 2013, she earned a degree in sustainable food and farming from UMass Amherst after only three years. Rombach said that when he and his wife would visit, her kitchen was full of greens she grew herself.

Chloe Rombach was a leader in two agricultural projects at UMass, the Student Farm Enterprise project and the Garden Share Club. Amanda Brown, a lecturer in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture and director of the UMass Student Farm, said Rombach spent a year working on the farm.

“She was involved in all things agriculture at UMass,” Brown said Monday. “She did a little bit of everything. She worked in the fields with us in all kinds of weather, and she was involved with the farmers market and the CSA pick-ups on campus.”

She said Rombach has a “huge heart,” a talent for farming and a contagious laugh. When they worked together several years ago, Brown said, Rombach was always upbeat and never complained.

“She was well-liked and respected by her peers right away,” Brown said. “She was just great to be around.”

Brown said everyone in Stockbridge and the farm was devastated to learn of the accident. Many have kept abreast of her progress through the CaringBridge website and through other classmates who are connected to her family. “We’ve kind of been supporting each other,” she said.

Rombach was also an actor and had “a hell of a set of pipes,” her father said. In middle school, she played Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz,” he said, and in high school, she played Maria in “West Side Story” and sang in an a capella group.

Her interest in natural healing methods drew her to another passion: yoga. After taking classes at the Karuna Center for Yoga & Healing Arts for six months to a year, she became an instructor in November.

Karuna director Eileen Muir called Rombach “the shining star” of the yoga teacher training program.

“She has an incredibly bright disposition. She was always enthusiastic and just shone her way through the training,” Muir said. “She was an integral part of our community — and still is.”

Staff and students at the center have been deeply affected by Chloe’s accident, Muir said. She keeps in touch with the Rombach family, she said, and she and another staff member send weekly updates to the Karuna community based on the information on her CaringBridge site.

“I send healing energy her way every day,” Muir said.

The family believes she was walking to the yoga center at 25 Main St. when she was stuck by the car.

Practical help

Jake Clough of Northampton said he became friends with Chloe after he got to know her last summer when they were both students at the Karuna Center. He said there is a “huge community” in the Northampton area that is pulling for Chloe and checking her CaringBridge site religiously for updates.

“She’s one of the strongest people I’ve met, so that’s what’s getting me through it,” he said. “I just trust in her and her strength.”

Clough, 24, a musician, said he and other friends are planning a fundraising concert to help the Rombach family with the staggering medical expenses, though a date has not been set.

“Raising money is the most practical thing we can do right now,” he said. “We’d all just like to be able to help.”

For his part, Rombach said his family is touched by the support — and they do need the money. “It’s only going to scratch the surface of what it will cost for long-term recovery,” he said. For instance, just her ambulance ride to Mass General for the exam Saturday cost $3,000 to $4,000, he said.

A friend initially started a fundraising effort on the GoFundMe website, but Rombach later took over and started a new campaign with a fundraising goal of $100,000 at He said his daughter’s health care costs may one day reach several million dollars.

For now, Rombach said, he and his family will keep praying while they sit by Chloe’s bed, massaging her and looking for any sign of recovery. They hope one day — though it might be years from now — she will walk again and live an independent life.

At the same time, Rombach said, even as he and his wife care for their daughter now, they are concerned about who would continue to care for her when they no longer can.

“Most people go through seeing their parents die or get sick,” Rombach said. “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. It’s the hardest thing for a parent.”

For updates on Chloe Rombach’s condition, visit

Continue reading Praying for an Indepdendent Life for Chloe Rombach

UMass Students Can Get Academic Help Here

 Student Resources at UMass


  1. The Learning Resource Center (LRC) is located on the 10th floor of DuBois Library, and offers FREE peer-supported academic tutoring and supplemental instruction for over 180 courses at UMass. Tutoring support at the LRC is available for individual or small group sessions on a walk-in basis.They also assist students with learning workshops to improve your note-taking, studying, time-management or problem-solving skills. Its important to be proactive about your academic goals, so if you think you might need some additional support, feel free to stop by the Learning Resource Center or visit their webpage for more information.
  2. The Writing Center can be found in the Learning Commons within the basement of DuBois Library. At the Writing Center, students can receive one-on-one support with all aspects of the writing process from beginning to end. The Writing Center tutors meet with writers in 45 minute face-to-face or online consultations. If you need help with anything from getting your ideas onto paper to revising your last draft, then check out their website to schedule an appointment with a Writing Center tutor.
  1. Also located in the basement of DuBois Library is the  Academic Advising Link, where Peer Advisors like me are ready for anything! These Peer Advisors from Undergraduate Advising can assist you with the course selection process, answer questions about academic requirements, promote major exploration, and much more. Swing by the Academic Advising Link in the library Sunday-Thursday from 4-8pm to have an awesome Peer Advisor assist you.
  1. Check out the Tutoring Centers available in the Lederle Graduate Research Tower if you need some assistance with various Math or Stats department courses. These centers are staffed by instructors, graduate TAs, and undergraduate peer TAs who are always happy to provide some assistance and math review. For the most up-to-date information regarding the time and room numbers for each tutoring session, please review the Tutoring Centers website.
  1. The DuBois Library offers an Ask a Librarian service to assist students with both understanding the borrowing or inter-library loan process, and locating the materials they need. They can also teach students how to utilize the library equipment, learn to use RefWorks, and more. Students can email, phone, IM, text, or visit the reference desk in the basement of the library within the Learning Commons in order to Ask these Librarians anything. Feel free to visit their website for more information.

Summer Pre-College for High School Students in Sustainable Farming and Food Systems

UMass Pre-college Summer Program

Sustainable Farming and Food Systems

Apply Here

Are you interested in learning more about where your food comes from? Or how does your food get to your plate? And where does the waste go afterwards?
SSA Logo -- blue on white with UMASSf4apicJoin one of the leading university Sustainable Food and Farming programs in the nation for an immersion in sustainability and food systems. In this one-week course, students will gain hands-on experience in the local food system as well as comprehensive understanding of the U.S. Food System. This program will focus on three areas in our food system:

  1. sustainability and systems thinking,
  2. social justice, and
  3. agricultural leadership.

This week will include at least 2 field trips and hands-on experience at local farms.cropped-stuentfarmer.jpg
With a focus on sustainability, students will explore and analyze inequities present in our food system using systems thinking tools like concept mapping and iceberg models. Students will simultaneously participate in a UMass project growing organic food for local food relief organizations, such as Not Bread Alone soup kitchen and Amherst Survival Center, exploring both the food production and community engagement subsystems necessary to have a successful partnership addressing equity in our food system.

f4apic2Finally, students will have an opportunity to explore their personal relationships to food, and lead each other in activities to deepen understanding how to change personal actions to impact our food system. This practice is important for students interested in leading, managing, teaching, and articulating various perspectives in sustainability.

Program Fees

Contact the lead instructor, Sarah Berquist, for more information.

Apply Here

Free food safety course offered by UMass

TO:  UMass Sustainable Food and Farming students

Please get certified! nancyc

Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the UMass Department of Nutrition has launched the Food Safety from Farm and Garden to Preschool online training program. The department has partnered with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension to develop this free, online, interactive food safety program for early child care educators, foodservice staff, and parents.

The program is now available online at;

The program takes about 2-hours.  It is self-paced  and was created to help early childcare educators, foodservice staff, volunteers, and parents understand the importance of reducing the risk of food safety related to fresh fruits and vegetables in young children. The program includes five units:

  1. Farm to Preschool Benefits
  2. Fresh Produce and Foodborne Illness Risks
  3. Food Safety Basics for the Classroom and the Kitchen
  4. Food Safety and Gardening Activities
  5. Food Safety on Field Trips to Farms and Farmers’ Market.

Online discussion boards and printable resources such as Best Practices Planning Tools, resources, and Certificates of Completion are available and may be able to be used towards Professional Development requirements. The program is also offered as an in-person training workshop in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Nancy Cohen, Professor and Head of the Department of Nutrition and the Principal Investigator on the USDA grant, expects that through increased food safety knowledge and increased adoption of safe and healthy practices in Farm to Preschool (F2P) programs, that food safety risk will be reduced considerably for the hundreds of preschool children who participate in expanding F2P programs throughout New England.

“Over 400 participants from across the U.S. participated in the program in the first five weeks,” says Cohen. “Early indications show improved knowledge and planned behavior changes, not only in food safety practices, but in plans to increase gardens and fresh fruits and vegetables served. Research will continue to determine behavior changes as a result of the program.”

Original Post at:

2015 Local Cooperative Internships in Amherst


All Things Local Cooperative Market

104 North Pleasant St., Downtown, Amherst MA

Several unpaid internship opportunities are available for spring semester.  UMass and Five College students may earn one credit (pass/fail) for working 3-4 hours a week or 2 credits for 8 hours.  Among the opportunities are:

  1. Daily Customer Service – (minimum 4 hours per week) greet customers and help them find products, check out, and answer questions about the coop.
  2. Apprentice Assistant Manager – (minimum of 8 hour per week) work with the management team to learn tosupport volunteers, work with vendors, make decisions regarding products.
  3. Social Media Marketing – (minimum 3 hours per week) regular posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram highlighting products and local vendors.
  4. Graphic artist – (minimum 3 hours a week) develop infographic materials needed for marketing purposes; posters, stickers, and other promotional materials for the coop.
  5. Newsletter writers – (minimum 3 hours a week) interview producers and write a short article for the electronic newsletter.
  6. Cooking and Baking - (minimum 4 hours per week) learn to make value added products for sale in the market.
  7. Workshop Support – manage weekly Sustainability Sunday educational workshops (must be available from 1:30pm-4:30pm on Sunday afternoons).

For more contact John Gerber.  Credit must be arranged before January 30 for the spring semester.



2015 Just Roots Farm Internships

Internship Opportunities!justrootsJust Roots Farm, Greenfield  MA

Farm Education and Administration Intern
Interns will work on and be mentored in event planning, marketing, educational curriculum development, research on existing farm-to-school models, and farm administration. You may be asked to help with assistant teaching new pilot programs, working with other interns and students and doing independent work at the farm.  For information, contact Educational Director Annie Burdett.
Herbal Medicine and Conservation Intern
Interns will work on conservation research and implementation, maintenance and development of gardens at the farm including a conservation site, herbal medicine garden and educational garden. This will include general hands-on farm/gardening assistance with medicinals, natives, and invasive eradication as well as helping to develop a more comprehensive site plan and implementing new practices at the farm.  For information, contact Educational Director Annie Burdett.
A few members of our 2014 farm crew with farm managers Bill and Aaron. (left to right) Rachel, Braeden, Bill, Aaron, and Gina
A few members of our 2014 farm crew with farm managers Bill and Aaron.
(left to right) Rachel, Braeden, Bill, Aaron, and Gina
Farm Internships

We are a small, diverse farm where we all do a little bit of everything. Interns can expect to assist in all manner of farm operations – primarily, soil, crop, pest and weed management in the field and green houses. Typical tasks include seeding, transplanting, weeding (both by hand and with tools), harvesting, caring for animals, etc. During our CSA and farmers market season, interns will have rotational responsibilities at these marketing outlets. Specific responsibilities will vary depending on season. Just Roots manages several unique programs on the farm and in the community that interns can plug into, whether your area of interest is marketing, writing, research, medicinal herbs, conservation, farm to school, hunger relief, nutrition and cooking—the list goes on. Farm management will work with interns to craft an individualized educational experience. Education will be primarily field-based but will also include some reading.

There are four seasonal farm commitment options:

  • Full-season (March – Nov)
  • Spring (March – May) 10-15 hrs/wk
  • Summer (May – Sept) 15-20 hrs/wk
  • Fall (Sept – Nov) 10-15 hrs/wk
 Farm management will work with interns to develop a consistent weekly schedule that accommodates school and other regular commitments. Details on start and end dates can be discussed during interviews. Please include the season you wish to intern for and your weekly availability in your cover letter.

The farm internship program is geared toward college students and individuals who are seeking hands on farm experience, and looking to grow their knowledge of farm operations in order to build the skills necessary for a career in farming, farm education, etc. Previous experience/knowledge in farming and food systems is a bonus, but not required. Interns should have a positive attitude, be enthusiastic and active learners, have good time management, communication, and organizational skills, be able to lift up to 40lbs, prepared to work their scheduled shift in a variety of (safe) weather conditions, and work well individually as well as with a team. Applicants must be at least 15 years old to be considered.

The internship is unpaid and housing is not included, though college credit is available for interns enrolled in school. Stipends are available at participating colleges and universities. Contact your internship or program advisor for information. Interns have access to free vegetables and are invited to attend Just Roots workshops and intensives free of charge.

How to Apply:
To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to farm manager, Aaron Drysdale ( Please include the season you are interested in applying for, your projected weekly availability, and why you’d like to intern on the Greenfield Community Farm.


NOTE: UMass and Five College students can earn academic credit for working at Just Roots.  Contact John Gerber for information.  And if you are looking for a farming and/or marketing internship experience for spring and or summer, you can find several search engines for jobs and internships on the Stockbridge School web page here “Finding Work and Internships.


A letter to those of you who have taken a class in French Hall at UMass

TO:  Stockbridge Students who have taken classes in French Hall

FROM:  John M. Gerber, Professor of Sustainable Food & Farming

newfrenchallWhile you were studying horticultural plant pathology with Bess Dicklow, or sustainable agriculture with Katie Campbell-Nelson, or visiting your adviser Doug Cox or Susan Han, did you ever wonder who French Hall was named after?  Probably not.

You have surely walked by the plaque near the front door commemorating Henry Flagg French, the first President of Massachusetts Agricultural College (Mass Aggie).

henryfrenchA native of New Hampshire and graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, French loved agriculture but spent most of his career as a lawyer and a judge.  He operated a farm, did his own agricultural research and was considered a leader in the emerging application of science to agriculture.

French held the post of president for two years, resigning in 1866 even before any students had arrived.  According to Henry Bowker, a student who entered Mass Aggie with the first class in 1867, and remained connected as an alum and trustee for many years, “Judge” French “was a keen, sensitive man, with q good mind, highly trained and well informed, rather distant in manner, but kindly in nature.”   Professor French was said to be well ahead of his time in his thinking on agriculture.

His short stay as President seems to have been because of an argument with the Board of Trustees (not an uncommon problem for college presidents then and today) over the proposed placement of new buildings.  It seems that the original design for the campus was created by the famous architect who designed Central Park in N.Y. City, Frederick Law Olmsted.  In 1866 the Trustees of Massachusetts Agricultural College requested that Olmsted, provide recommendations for the grounds of the newly formed institution.

Olmsted recommended that the college as a whole be modeled after a typical New England village. The Board of Trustees did not like the plan, fired Olmsted, and proceeded place buildings in a more expansive manner, spread farther apart among the fields.  French seems have sided with Olmsted, and lost.

OpeningMassAggieAfter leaving Mass Aggie, French moved to Washington D.C. and served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury on the President’s Cabinet.  He also authored a book titled “Farm Drainage” which described the way a particular type of drain was used called a “French Drain” which were probably invented in France but popularized by Professor French.

While here for only a few years, “Judge” French had a lasting impact on the policies and core values of the new college.  The following was taken from a report he wrote:  “Our college is to be established as part of the great scheme of public education…., not as a rival to our other excellent colleges, but as a co-worker with them in a common cause.” 

Remember that prior to the Morrill Act of 1862, signed by President Lincoln, all of the colleges in the U.S. were private institutions offering education only to the wealthy.  Levi Stockbridge himself, was frustrated because his father could only afford to send one of his son’s to Amherst College, and his older brother Henry was chosen.  Nevertheless, Levi attended classes with his brother, and was mentored by Amherst College President Edward Hitchcock in chemistry.  Public institutions, such as Mass Aggie which offered a free college education for many years to anyone qualified, was a radical departure from the elite colleges of the day.

Judge French has strongly held democratic tendencies and claimed that Mass Aggie should “… differ essentially from any college existing in the country controlled by an aristocracy.”   Further, he wrote in one of the first reports  ever coming from the nascent University of Massachusetts Amherst that “wealth and education, monopolized by any class in any country, will draw to that class the political control of the country.”   Sounds like Judge French would have camped out with the protesters at the Occupy Wall Street site!

frenchquoteOne of my favorite quotes from French is above.  He believed that we must “recast society into a system of equality.”   Indeed he fully understood the purpose of the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862, which was passed “to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.”  





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