The Dartmouth Organic Farm is space for food and farming systems education, namely through experiential learning and innovative research projects. Beyond its educational functions, the farm also provides space for inclusive community building and social activities. Organic Farm Manager Laura Braasch walks us through some of the highlights from this fall:
ENVS 25: Each summer, the O Farm acts as a field research site for many ongoing research projects. Ecological Agriculture, an Environmental Studies Course, used the farm as a laboratory to research the effectiveness of commonly used organic growing methods for pest control and weed suppression. Specifically, the class looked at the impact of five varieties of mulch on weed suppression on tomato plant vitality and productivity. They also evaluated the use of cover crops as “trap crops” for pest control on kale plants compared to the use physical row covers that exclude insects from the plants. The research and data taken each year will continue to add to a growing database of information used to help inform our growing practices at the O Farm. Karen Washington Visits Dartmouth: Dartmouth celebrated "Food Week” this year with a full plate of events to engage students with our food system in a hands on way. This culminated in a keynote address by Karen Washington, a food justice advocate, community activist, and farmer from New York. Karen spent the day visiting with students in smaller groups, sharing ideas and visions for a more just and equitable food system. In her keynote address, Karen spoke passionately about the role power plays in the injustices present in our food system and she challenged students to get out there and be active in pursuing these issues, starting by simply asking questions and learning about the structures of power present in their communities. This event was made possible through a partnership with Dartmouth Dining Services, Environmental Studies Department, Geography Department, Farm Club, and the Geisel School of Medicine. Sustainability of Language & Language of Sustainability: The O Farm formed an exciting new partnership this year with the Spanish Department in a program called “The Sustainability of Language.” Through this program, all students enrolled in Spanish Language classes this fall engaged in discussions around food, farming, and sustainability, including tours of the Organic Farm! In the course of one day, over 250 students came out to the O Farm for tours led (en español!) by students who are involved in the farm. This program will culminate in a community meal cooked by the Spanish classes featuring seasonal produce from the O Farm, specifically grown for this project. Events at the Farm: Each year the O Farm hosts numerous groups to enjoy the sights, sounds, and flavors of the farm through community events, volunteer work days, tours, picnics, and pizza oven dinners. This term, the farm worked with over 15 groups who chose the Farm as a site for their community building events! These included academic programs, sports teams, student clubs, campus organizations, lab groups, and classes from many departments. The Farm Club, an extracurricular student group that volunteers and plans workshops and events relating to food and farming, also helped the O Farm extend its reach this term by offering a wide variety of opportunities to engage at the farm throughout the season. Each week they ran three volunteer workdays and a farm stand on campus. As a part of Dartmouth’s “Food Week,” Farm Club also hosted an awesome event celebrating the harvest season called “Harfest,” which brought over 300 students to the farm to enjoy the fall weather, carve pumpkins grown on site, eat seasonal produce and foods, and enjoy music and games.