By Kaleigh O’Neill
The campus community farm has reached a breakthrough: the student run group celebrated a full year of self-sustainability this September. With strong leadership from farm managers, the oversight of advisor Kate Chandler, and many excited volunteers, the campus farm is making progress with enthusiastic cheerfulness. From humble beginnings on campus to an acre plot on land in historic St. Mary’s, the campus farm is growing, and will continue to grow.
Originally the campus farm was funded by the Environmental Studies Program, the Sustainability Committee, and the SGA. These three groups helped start up the farm by assisting in paying for fencing, electricity, seeds, hoses, and everything else needed to start. For the past three years, the farm has been selling its produce to Bon Appétit and in the grind’s farmers markets. Some food is also donated to the Three Oaks Homeless Shelter in Lexington Park. With start-up expenses out of the way, and a steady flow of income from produce sales, the farm has worked toward a goal of self-sustainability.
When asked what caused this sustainability breakthrough Kate Chandler, advisor and farmer, responded, “These students are working so hard. We have spread responsibility and then it doesn’t rest on one or two people. I’m very, very proud of these students.” And that turns attention to the farm managers who volunteer time to working at the farm.
Co-coordinators of the campus farm, senior Jessica Paguirigan and sophomore Elaine Bucknam, describe the farm as a continuation of the atmosphere found on the St. Mary’s campus. “The Farm is beautiful and you’re learning and working collectively,” says Bucknam. “We’ve got an atmosphere out there.” The entire campus farm is run by the hard work of volunteers. “Even we volunteer for this, and we do it because we love it,” says Paguirigan.
The campus community is starting to see and appreciate the love of the hard-working farmers. Senior Cristy Tono says, “It’s awesome to see how much the farm has developed over the past few years, it’s great to see it being used and people are still actively contributing and working towards a goal of sustainability.”
This year the farmers have noticed an overwhelming response from other volunteers. Each day the farmers are out there working, 4 p.m. on weekdays and 1 p.m. on weekends, harvesting, hoeing up beds and planting seeds while it’s still warm out. Currently, the farm is harvesting their fall crops like tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and basil. “There may be a time when we have to fall back on outside help, but only in an emergency situation,” says Chandler. “For now we are doing this on our own.”
Be sure to keep an eye out for their produce in the great room!