By Kat Christen, Antioch farmer
The Farm is moving at a fast clip into the season. Since mid-March, students have been eating fresh food from the Farm’s greenhouse. We are harvesting twice weekly for Birch Commons, preparing many new beds for planting, and, of course, planting seeds directly into soil and in our own starts grown on the plant stands in Birch Commons.
About forty-five garden beds are planted outside, in addition to the fifteen beds in the greenhouse that are already being planted again with summer crops. Planted spring crops include peas, cabbage, kale, chard, lettuces, spinach, carrots, beets and turnips. The perennials in the food forest are re-sprouting nicely, including pear and plum trees, hardy figs, and many berries.
Two co-op students started on the Farm full-time April 9. Students, Both students—Marianthe Bickett and Sam Senzek—began working on the Farm last Fall when they first arrived on campus, so are well versed in the day-to-day details and helping to shape the future of the Farm. They are very positive about their Farm experiences both past and present, and are especially enjoying these full days dedicated to the Farm.
Our beehive arrived in April and is now buzzing in the plum grove of the food forest. Volunteer Pete Pederson generously offered to keep his bees at the Farm, teach students about them, and share the honey. He suggested that students could paint the hive, which they creatively did, before he added bees. We look forward to the excellent pollination and honey they should provide.
The Farm now has eighty-five poultry, including fifteen ducklings, in various stages of growth. The first batch of meat birds (for the reunion dinner this summer) are pasturing daily near the new greenhouse, protected by a solar-charged electric fence. After being raised at the Trailside Museum with much affection, they are unusually friendly chickens!
Chicks that will become our larger laying flock for the Farm are growing at the Trailside Museum now. They are the Black Australorp breed. We can expect about 15 dozen eggs weekly by this Fall. In addition to entertainment, the ducks will also provide eggs and meat for the students when they mature.
More than work happens on the Farm. In addition to regularly scheduled tours and weekly volunteer work days, classes are held on the Farm. This spring, a student class came out to the Farm to explore “plant souls” as a part of their philosophy class. Students planted wild onion ramps in our food forest as they discussed the nature of plants. A design build project led by art professor Sara Black is also in progress; students and others participated in a day-long session to design a renovation to the old Tea Garden area. The upcoming renovation will involve students, faculty, staff, and community members.