Sustainability at The Farm

The Farm at Stonehill is committed to several organic farming practices that support sustainability: conserving water, protecting soil health, saving seeds and maintaining the integrity of connections to the larger ecosystem.

Pollinators Producing Honey

Bees are important pollinators that help maintain a sustainable and ecologically balanced agroecosystem. The Farm at Stonehill collaborates with The Best Bees of Boston to maintain a honey bee hive with over 40,000 bees. In addition to caring for the larvae and cleaning the hive, female worker bees forage for pollen and nectar here at The Farm, and in the surrounding areas--up to 5 miles away! The Best Bees Company manages the hive for an annual service fee, which supports the organization’s important research on Honey Bee health at the Urban Beekeeping Laboratory and Bee Sanctuary. In return, the bees help increase annual crop yields at The Farm and produce some honey for our community to enjoy each year.

 Italian Honey Bees at work in the hive!
 Jars filled with sweet and golden honey for sale on campus

Promoting Biodiversity

The Farm functions as an agricultural ecosystem, meaning that it is interconnected with the larger ecosystem in Easton, Massachusetts. On any given day at The Farm, a variety of critters can be found flying through the fields, hopping around the hoophouses, crawling in grasses or nesting in the rows—and we love it! Everything from birds, bunnies, snakes, spiders, butterflies, beetles and worms to trees, flowers, bacteria and fungi play a vital role in maintaining biodiversity at The Farm. Our flower beds naturally attract these different kinds of pollinators to The Farm, which in turn help pollinate our fruits and vegetables. Biodiversity on The Farm not only boosts crop productivity, but also helps the ecosystem maintain its adaptability and resistance to disease. We plant over 150 different varieties of organic fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs here every year to produce a wide range of habitats and crops for the entire community to enjoy (bee or human alike)!

 A large bouquet of dazzling pink, red, blue, yellow, and white flowers grown at The Farm at Stonehill and created for a beautiful bride.
 Newly hatched baby Killdeer chicks, which thrive in open fields, poke out of their shells at The Farm!

Promoting Sustainable Behavior on Campus

Real Food

Environmental groups on campus like Students for Environmental Action (SEA) and Food Truth  often partner with The Farm to raise awareness about food access issues, promote local eating, fair trade, and other sustainable and just growing practices. For example, Food Truth encouraged Stonehill to take part in The Real Food Campus Commitment to increase its procurement of food, which is local, fairly traded and organically and humanely produced.

 College President, Rev. John Denning, C.S.C, and Vice President for Student Affairs, Pauline Dombrowski, sign a committment to The Real Food Challenge. Happy Students stand behind them, smiling at this accomplishment.

Compost

Organic food waste from the Dining Commons - mainly pre-consumer fruit and veggie scraps - is transported to The Farm’s compost pile every day where it is broken down by decomposers into a rich soil amendment with key macro- and micro- nutrients for planting!

 A large yellow sign was hung by the Landfill, Recycling, and Composting receptacles in the Dining Commons created by the students who launched composting efforts on campus to informed students about how to compost their food waste.
Organic food scraps sit atop our growing compost pile! This pile is maintained thanks to the efforts of Tim Watts.

Promoting Polyculture

The Farm empowers students to cultivate a more just and compassionate world by offering opportunities for students to seek solutions to food insecurities and pursue means of making The Farm more sustainable. Over the years, student projects have blossomed into integral parts of The Farm’s landscape and ecosystem. One of these projects is our permaculture garden, started in the Summer of 2014. Permaculture, or “permanent agriculture”, is an ecological design that mimics patterns observed in the natural ecosystem to create a self-regenerative and edible landscape. Our permaculture garden is an organic and lasting polyculture. Diverse groups of perennial plants (ones that grow back each year) work hard to fulfill complimentary niches and support one another.

Permaculture Garden

Christine Moodie (2015) designed our permaculture garden as a thesis project.  In this photo she sees her design to fruition, helping to plant corn in the Three Sisters (corn, beans and squash) section of the garden at the farm.

 

The Farm at Stonehill Blog

Brimming With Hope as the Supermoon Rises

The first day of Spring arrives, and I find myself brimming with hope for another amazing season at The Farm. My early morning walks with Zuri around the fields areĀ filled with soft, warm light dancing on the frost covered grasses. It is hard to believe that in a few short months the morning dew will […]

Read Post

A Snowy, Sleepy Farm

At this time of year, with snow layered over cover crop and around the hoop houses, The Farm looks as sleepy as ever. And Zuri is just as sleepy as the rest of The Farm! Despite the deep snow settled like a blanket on The Farm, we are anticipating spring and the new growing season […]

Read Post