Sam Cottle ’16 loads wood into the biochar stove as part of a demonstration for the environmental science class.
By Kat Christen, farm manager
Frosty mornings on the farm are giving way to diminishing warm, sunny days. Each morning one of our seven student employees, made up of returning and new students, walks across the frosted grass to a mobile fence enclosure dotted with four chicken coops on the old “golf course.” They unlatch the doors and eager chickens and ducks rush out onto the green pasture.
Students care daily for our 50 ducks and chickens, and collect the treasure of 1-1½ dozen eggs for Antioch Kitchens. Although the last of the meat birds have been harvested for the season, the remaining birds continue to provide eggs, fertility, and learning opportunities to our campus.
In early November, fifteen students in the environmental science class came out to the farm to learn about soil improvement methods implemented on the Antioch Farm, such as biochar and microbial inoculants. The students took soil samples to analyze in class. They dug up sample soil from the chicken pen, beds with added biochar, and the undeveloped open space.
This fall, the farm staff has also been busy soaking up the last of this beautiful weather while we prepare many garden beds for spring, care for our greenhouse garden beds, and harvest for Antioch Kitchens. Each Tuesday, we harvest ten to fifteen pounds of cooking and salad greens from our field or greenhouse. Thanks to a year of hardy composting, we have an abundance of finished compost to add to garden beds along with a layer of local straw.
Alexander Schlosser ’16 fills waterers for chickens and ducks.
Students Emma Mutrux ’16 and Sam Cottle ’16 collect vegetable scraps from the dining hall, staff spaces, and all dorm kitchenettes. Several times each week they gather the buckets onto our yellow garden cart and haul them to the farm. Small cinder block bins, constructed by students and volunteers last year, house the scraps as they decompose into dark, organic fertilizer.
Chickens and ducks on the old “golf course” area.
As the season wraps up, shorter days surround us as we dream and plan for next growing season. Double the annual growing area and a plan for bringing our first lambs to campus are currently in the works, while other practical details are getting worked out like where to rinse harvest and run water lines. All in all, a successful close to our first full growing season on the Antioch Farm allows us to be grateful in the season of gratitude and anticipate another great year in 2013.