2015 Farm Reflections

By Kat Christen

January on the farm is a great time to reflect on the previous growing season and look ahead, through the snowflakes, to the next. Thanks to our great student staff and Antioch community, we have had many successes on the Antioch in 2015. Following are some fun ones to share.

Curricular Ties

Many courses used the farm as a learning laboratory in 2015 including Ecological Agriculture, Environmental Science, Botany, Zoology, Political Economy, Environmental Philosophy, Global Seminar on Food, Global Seminar on Energy, and Genetics.

Ecological Agriculture, on almost weekly farm visits, sampled soils and temperatures, explored weed and pest management, berry propagation, and soil fertility. Other content varied greatly by course but included:

  • Sustainable agricultural methods (Global Seminar Food)
  • Solar energy on the farm (Global Seminar Energy)
  • Heirloom seed and heritage chicken breeding (Genetics)
  • Exploration of land use change and zoning (Political Economy)
  • Wendell Berry reading discussion (Environmental Ethics)

Special Projects

Selected exciting projects for 2015 included:

  • Seven sheep grazed under our 5-acre solar array in our solar sheep pilot. They successfully kept weeds down in hard to reach places and did not damage any equipment!
  • Phase I of the Pollinator Path was implemented on South Campus. Hundreds of pollinator friendly plants mark the first planting of this corridor for our pollinators. Students from Botany, Environmental Science, and Ecological Agriculture helped to make this a success.
  • Two new beehives were added to the farm, increasing our buzz to three hives.
  • A 175-plant bramble understory was added to our southern food forest.
  • The heritage chicken-breeding project hatched out thirty chicks selected for good laying characteristics. Chicks received eager attention from the Outdoor Education Center children visitors before moving to the Antioch Farm.

Production

In 2015, the Antioch Farm provided an abundance of sustainably produced products for the Antioch Kitchens. Students were involved in every step from seed starting to harvest to compost collection. From the Kitchens, offices and dorm kitchettes, student staff also collected 6,000 pounds of compost during spring term alone. In 2015, the farm provided:

  • Fresh produce (5,000 lbs.)
  • Dried herbal teas
  • Pastured chicken (70 lbs) & lamb
  • Chicken & duck eggs

Community

For four years, the Antioch Farm has hosted weekly volunteer hours during our growing season. In 2015, volunteer provided 445 hours of support, for a total of 1,800 hours since the farm began in 2011. Thanks volunteers!

The Antioch Farm also hosted community groups and workshops such as:

  • Yellow Springs High School grades 1, 9 and 10. The ninth grade was kicking off their project based learning unit: Food for Thought.
  • Alumni Reunion participants for egg collection and on farm omelet making.
  • Seed School, a regional workshop with national experts, teaching the art and science of seed saving.
  • Naturalist from the Outdoor Education Center.
  • Group of East End community center employees, UD staff, and community gardeners planning to start an urban farm in a low income Dayton neighborhood.

Looking back on 2015, the Antioch Farm can be proud of its accomplishments. We can also look forward, with excitement, to another growing season supporting student learning in the practical, complicated and abstract facets of food production and food systems in order to better prepare them to meet the challenges of the future and, of course, eat better while they are doing it.