Three fall farm trips have changed student views on how they can heal the two homes they inhabit, their physical body and the Earth.
At Windsong Organic Farm, students gathered soil samples from the fields, learning from Farmer Diane Skoss, how she grows nutrient-dense vegetables and herbs, on the oldest organic farm in New Jersey. She has chickens helping with cultivation and enrichment of the soil.
On the second trip to Pfeiffer Center, students learned about biodynamic agriculture, how cows enrich the soil, that each farm is a living organism, with self-regulating processes and the power to self-heal. Students created compost preparations using cow manure, trace elements and enzymes, to enliven the soil. They spread some of the preparations on compost piles which will be added to the fields in the Spring. Eating biodynamic vegetables (salad, soup) and bread for lunch, students could taste the difference of food grown on land using biodynamic practices for 50 years. "This is the most delicious salad I have ever eaten, I want to come here every year" said Kim Parra, a sophomore majoring in Environmental Studies.
The third farm trip was to Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, an 80-acre farm surrounded by preserved land, in the Hudson River Valley. Students toured the fields, greenhouses, agroforestry woodlands, and learned about the care taking of the animals that are helpers in the fields (pigs, turkeys, sheep, chickens, ducks and cows). The Finn-Dorset sheep are guarded in the fields by large beautiful white sheepdogs of the Italian Maremma breed. The dogs live with the sheep 24 hours a day and consider the sheep their family, protecting them from predators. Some students ate carrots right out of the earth and toured the kitchen where chef Dan Barber creates delicious meals from vegetables and herbs harvested that day in the fields and greenhouses. The highlight of the trip was lunch from the famous Blue Hill restaurant, located on the farm.
These farm trips are offered to students in the Ecology Club and Sustainable Food Systems course. Students learn about agroecology concepts in the classroom and then see farmers implement the principles in their fields, to heal the Earth and grow delicious food.
At the end of each trip everyone forms a circle and says two things: "Thank you Mother Earth for your beauty and abundance!" and "Thank you Mr. Signorello for funding these trips!" John Signorello is the Associate Vice President Facilities Engineering and Business Affairs, who supports Ecology Club events, the organic campus garden and sustainability initiatives that enrich student lives, creating unique experiences that students will never forget.
For more information please contact the Ecology Club Faculty Advisor and Campus Garden Director, Wanda Knapik at Wanda.Knapik@shu.edu.
Categories: Science and Technology