19 Apr FarmFest and Bard Farm
Bard Free Press – April 2012 –
by Aubrey Tingler –
Those attempting to bring a farm to Bard were given a daunting task in early March: raise $20,000 by April 1 to make the farm a reality. Through extensive efforts from Bard Farm organizers, that goal was reached, and even surpassed–a total of $25,019.22 was earned by the end of the farm fundraising effort.
The Bard Farm project will be moving forward immediately. The site of the new farm is now the open field directly behind Manor. Though its original location was on the other side of campus, this move will allow the farm to have more space and dryer land. It will also separate it from the Community Garden, which has a different mission.
Those working on the farm celebrated its progress March 23 on an another unexpectedly bright and warm spring day in Annandale-on-Hudson. Dubbed Farm Fest, the event took place on Ludlow Lawn from noon to 1 a.m. A buffet of fresh food from the non-profit Earth to Table was available for those who made a seven dollar donation to the farm. Those who donated were given a wristband and were free to come back for food at any time during the day.
Work on the farm has begun–students and faculty have started hauling dirt on their new location. Bard is also interested in hiring and providing housing for a handful of students who wish to work on the farm during the summer, according to first-year Emmett Brennan, who was part of the driving force behind the farm initiative.
A lively crowd enjoyed fresh quiche, tossed salad, various pasta dishes, cinnamon pancakes and freshly brewed hibiscus and nettle tea. The folkie music of the Bard bands filled the spring air, as did the intermittent chorus of a group of percussionists. This group meandered around the event, surrounding a picnic table or two and then moving along on their march.
Secondhand clothes and accessories were laid out on tables and on the ground, and could be purchased on a “name your price” basis. All proceeds went to the funds for the Bard Farm. Bard bands played on a temporary stage across the lawn, including O Face and the Annandale Ramblers.
That day, Emmett Brennan said he was “incredibly” optimistic that the fundraising goal would be reached. “We’re essentially seventy-five percent of the way to raising the farm funds,” he said that day. “We’re just trying to keep pushing that motivation and energy forward.”
“We’re thinking very business oriented,” said John-Paul Sliva, the Farm Coordinator. “We want this farm to be self-sustaining.”
Sliva already has extensive plans for what to do first.
“We have to take the soil from silty clay to something much more breathable,” Sliva said.
The next objective is to lay out the space and set up beds, which will be layered with compost to enrich the nutrients in the soil. The construction of a pond is also in the works. This would serve as a drip irrigation source, and would also expand the academic possibilities of the farm, as classes could use it as a real life lab to study water nutrients and pond environments, said Sliva.
Some of the first crops Sliva is considering are cranberries, quinoa and hops because of their potential to be sold locally and bring in revenue for the farm.
One of the big questions for the students is how the Bard Farm will impact the food options available. Sliva said that the farm does not yet have an official relationship with Chartwells. However, Chartwells did contribute $3,000 to the project. A long-term goal of the farm may be to provide Chartwells with food that can be useful at all stages of its growth cycle, such as kale and loose leaf lettuce, Sliva said.
For the farm, their role in a future relationship with Chartwells will be to provide more conscious food choices. “If you could have a better product for the exact same price that is more sustainable, what would you do?” Sliva said. There are many other plans for the future of the farm, such as growing vegetables which would be a source of produce for both the college and local restaurants.
“It’s all about making a complete system…the possibilities are really endless,” Sliva said.