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.
The Seed Library - New Summer 2020!
Seeds are central to the vitality of a farm and crucial for our food system to thrive. As stated in High Mowing Organic Seed’s Safe Seed Pledge, “agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations”. A seed has relationships with abiotic and biotic factors in the ecosystem. A seed also has relationships with people through a story and a living history. Furthermore, seed saving has important ecological and social connections by encouraging food sovereignty. We are interested in saving seeds and keeping their genetic diversity and stories alive.
We also hope to share the magic and importance of seeds with people in the Stonehill community. From this hope, we created, in partnership with the MacPhaidin Library, a seed library. Seeds will be housed in the seed library starting in the summer of 2020. If you want to know more about starting a home garden with the seeds you checked out of the seed library, check out The Farm’s Growing Hope Guide. For more information, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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 hoop houses, 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)!
Promoting Sustainable Behavior on Campus
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.
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!
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.