Robin Clune joins Ambler Farm team
With the hiring of Wiltonian Robin Clune as administrative coordinator, the Friends of Ambler Farm have added a third salaried member to their small staff.
Ms. Clune, an Illinois native who moved with her husband, David, to Wilton about 10 years ago, said from the farm’s white carriage house that she has been enjoying the Ambler property before she ever bought a house in town.
“I’ve been involved with Ambler Farm for as long as I can remember,” she said on Monday, Nov. 4. “I’ve been coming here for at least 20 years, long before I ever had kids.
“It represents Wilton,” she said, in that it stresses “community building, education, and our agrarian roots. My role is to make everyone in Wilton feel welcome here.”
For Ms. Clune, who has a background in finance and marketing with IBM and an asset management firm, the new position at Ambler Farm is a perfect fit. The administrative coordinator position is a part-time job in which Ms. Clune will be expected to handle the “day-to-day” administrative needs as well as help director of agriculture Jonathan Kirschner, program manager Kevin Meehan, and the Ambler Farm board with long-term strategic planning.
“We’ve grown so much over the past few years that we realized we needed someone to come in and run the operation more like a business,” said Michele Bennett, Ambler Farm’s volunteer public relations specialist.
Though Mr. Meehan and Mr. Kirschner seem to have endless energy and initiative on the property, Ms. Bennett noted that the growth of Ambler Farm’s membership and programs has stretched both the paid and volunteer staff thin.
“Robin’s background is so well-suited to this role,” she said, “because she has a background in database management and she understands bookkeeping and rentals. We’re growing so quickly that last fiscal year our membership doubled from over 600 to over 1,200 members.”
Ms. Clune said she could not have asked for a more well-suited role at an organization that she has a true passion for.
“All of my kids go to camps every summer. We make maple syrup here, we buy our greens here. It was a natural thing,” Ms. Clune said. “I just thought, What an absolutely ideal thing to do.”
As part of this position, Ms. Clune said, her biggest role will be that of a community ambassador for the Friends of Ambler Farm.
“The Ambler property is more than a farm. It’s an active community resource,” she said. “I’m here to add value to what the community wants and needs Ambler Farm to be.”
Wilton’s desires in terms of the property and its activities, she said, is especially important when taken relative to her favorite aspect of Ambler Farm, which she calls “intangible.”
“The main thing that I love about this place is that even though so many of us are so busy in our lives, the second I come over the hill and see the barn and the gardens I get a very peaceful and serene feeling. It’s such a special gem that Wilton has that you cannot find in many other towns.”
Ms. Clune and Ms. Bennett especially noted that Ambler Farm is open “from dawn to dusk” for anyone to visit, whether they are members of the Friends of Ambler Farm or not.
“The town owns it,” Ms. Bennett said, “but the Friends are charged — by Betty Ambler’s deed — to maintain it, and where necessary, restore it to its original condition. It’s a slice of Norman Rockwell Americana.”
One of the most popular days of the year in recent times, Ms. Clune said, is an example of the area’s public nature. The property is usually packed on the Fourth of July, when countless Wilton residents take a place on the expansive yard to watch the fireworks blast away near Fujitani Field.
The farm’s youth programs, Ms. Clune said, are something she especially hopes to support in her new role. Both Ambler Farm representatives said their summer programs already draw children from 13 surrounding communities, including Westport, Weston, Norwalk, and even a few from New York City.
Though she has begun to think up her own plans for the farm, Ms. Clune said, her first order of business is to learn all she can from the property’s biggest advocates, Mr. Meehan and Mr. Kirschner.
“What I’d like to do is just learn from Kevin and Jonathan at first. To find out from them what they’ve thought of and what has worked in the past. There will be time for many initiatives in the future, but I want to learn more first,” she said.
Members of the public may visit Ambler Farm seven days a week from dawn to dusk. For more information on programs offered at the property, visit amblerfarm.org.