It is prime growing season at The Farm at Stonehill and, in addition its sprouting crops, there are several exciting projects underway at the 1.5 acre space which annually distributes over 12,000 lbs. of produce to local non-profits.
One such project is focused on permaculture gardens and how effective they can be in creating productive spaces that provide nutritious food on college campuses and in cities like nearby Brockton.
Faculty and students from both Stonehill and Massasoit Community College are conducting this research through a grant from The Lloyd G. Balfour Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee.
Permaculture, a merger of the words "permanent" and "agriculture,” combines the best of natural and edible landscaping and emphasizes the use of native plants.
“Ultimately, I hope to design a model for a permaculture garden on campus at Stonehill, and then implement the model,” says Stonehill’s Christine Moodie ’15, who will attend the Revisioning Sustainability Conference at UMASS-Amherst this summer to deepen her knowledge of the subject.
“A permaculture garden would further the College’s mission by getting students to think critically about where their food is coming from, who is producing their food, and how it is being produced,” notes Moodie.
As an extension of the permaculture garden project, The Farm is seeking to secure a $15,000 "Gardens for Good" Grant from the organic food company "Nature's Path.” If awarded the grant, the funding will help The Farm support community garden projects in the City of Brockton.
Creating Access to Local Food
These new or revitalized gardens, located at schools and community spaces in the city, will increase local residents’ access to truly local food. The grant will be awarded to the project which receives the most number of votes from the public and from a selection committee. To vote for Stonehill’s project, visit here.
“By creating growing spaces in Brockton, the Farm is deepening its mission to address food desert conditions and to serve our neighbors in need. Specifically, funds would help to build on the existing foundation of the Garden Club program at the Arnone Elementary School and also be used for materials to set up educational garden sites in at least two locations in Brockton including Trinity Catholic Academy and The Family Life Center of The Old Colony YMCA,” says Farm Manager Bridget Meigs.
Also new to The Farm this summer is an Outreach Coordinator. Through participation in the College’s Brockton Service Corps, Stonehill graduate Devin Ingersoll ’14 (pictured right), who volunteered at the Farm for the last three years, will take on that role, coordinating and managing volunteer groups while also looking for better ways to integrate the work that The Farm does into the local community.
”I joined the Brockton Service Corps because I was already involved in the Farm and wanted to help expand its mission. There is a far greater need for fresh fruits and vegetables in the local community than what the Farm can supply so expanding our work into city gardens can further benefit our local neighbors,” says Ingersoll.
Another initiative, which resulted from a sustainable agriculture research project conducted by Ingersoll and classmate Jess Lantos ’14, is the arrival of Italian Honey Bees. The bees, which are being managed by the beekeepers at The Best Bees Company, will help to pollinate many of The Farm’s crops as they produce honey and wax that our community will have the opportunity to enjoy.
The bees are expected to produce 10-20lbs of honey this season, which will likely be sold to members of the Stonehill community Meigs says.
Expanded Growing Seasons
Other additions to The Farm include the construction of a second hoop greenhouse which will allow The Farm to extend its growing season thus providing more produce to families in need.
“It will also allow us to extend the learning season for our students,” notes Meigs. Students Dan Gardiner ’14 and Jack Bressor ’13 studied how to extend growing seasons for farms in the Northeast as part of their Sustainable Agriculture course in the Spring of 2013. They also explored ways to fund the initiative as participants in the College’s Developing Fundraising Leaders Institute (DFLI) Program.
The hoop greenhouse project is being fully-funded thanks to a second year of support from The Harold Brooks Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Co-Trustee and a generous gift from the Class of 1964, which recently celebrated its 50th Reunion.
“It is exciting to be entering our fourth season with so much support from Stonehill students and staff as we work together to fulfill our mission in the original fields and in our second hoophouse. I am constantly reenergized by thoughtful questions and reflections offered by students relating to important issues of ecological sustainability and community development,” says Meigs.
To learn more about The Farm at Stonehill, visit here.