Deep into the midst of the weekly fall routines of first semester amid the daily bustle of classes, activities and midterms, one of the few peaceful havens to be found on campus is the Haverford College Farm or “Haverfarm.”
Nestled in the southwestern corner of campus between the Facilities building and nature trail, the Farm consists of a student-run production plot of vegetables and herbs inside a series of community garden plots, a small orchard, a bee-keeping station, a greenhouse, and an indoor classroom. The beginnings of Haverfarm were at what is today the second site of production plots: HCA Gardens, a group of pick-your-own-produce plant beds that students built in 2010 prior to having the physical classroom space and area in the community garden plots. For a brief history of the Farm, click here.
Whether you’re wondering how you can enjoy living off the full meal plan at low-cost; where to complete another P.E. credit in a supportive, laid-back environment; or how sustainable agriculture is important to you, read on to find out the latest about this unique aspect of campus!
During first and fourth Quarters, Haverfarm counts as a Physical Education class fulfillment. During my time completing a P.E. class at the farm, I spoke with student farmer Alica Lopez-Torres ‘20 to find out why they got involved and what is important about the Farm:
Naren Roy: What interested you in the Farm, and why do you think it’s important?
Alicia Lopez-Torres: I first started at the Farm because it was just something I had always wanted to try, ‘cause I had no experience. I had always liked plants, but I was from the city. I joined at the farm, and then Jahzara, who was the Farm Fellow, really made me feel like I had a place farming and gardening. I am queer-femme and an indegenous person, and yeah she defintely kept me in it. Farming now—it’s my act of survival. We need to equip ourselves with the knowledge—just to learn how to sustain yourself—and that’s something we lost because of capitalism and colonialism.
Haverfarm currently has a Farm Fellow employed to oversee the running of the farm, which is done through the work of student workers and volunteers. After completing my quarter of P.E. at the farm, I sat down with Farm Fellow Madison “Tilly” Tillman to learn more about what is new at the farm and all that it has to offer the community as a whole.
Naren Roy: What are some of the key projects happening right now at the farm, and how have they changed for this year?
Madison Tillman: Throughout the month of August, [student farmers] Ellis [and] Luigie and I worked to submit a high tunnel proposal to the Arboretum and Council on Sustainability and Social Responsibility. A high tunnel is an unheated greenhouse that goes directly over a plot. It is a plastic covered structure that would extend the farm’s growing season and allow for more production during the academic year. We hope that the high tunnel will not only benefit the farm, via more opportunities to understand and practice sustainable agriculture, but also support various efforts on campus to increase access to fresh produce for students during the breaks and throughout the academic year.
We are excited to move into a new stage with our beekeeping program at the Haverfarm. This fall has been a transitional period in which we’re working towards entirely in-house beekeeping and honey extraction. Beginning in the spring of 2020, the bees will be the responsibility of the Haverfarm team, allowing us to run more beekeeping programs for students and sell the honey more affordably.
This fall, a small group of students designed an independent study in collaboration with the Environmental Studies department and Haverfarm. They are focusing on soil health, compost management, irrigation, and ethnobotany. Their study will allow them to address practical issues at the farm by understanding the underlying causes and effects of each of these issues.
NR: Can you talk a bit about how the farm is funded? What are the different sources of funds, and has this changed at all recently?
MT: The farm is funded by a grant that supports the practical upkeep of the farm program, including tools, seeds, necessary materials, and the farm fellow salary. Beyond this, the Environmental Studies and Arboretum departments each fund student workers during the academic year. In the summer, the Arboretum and Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC) fund student interns. In early 2019, the farm set a goal of funding two student workers with money made entirely from farm sales and events. We are so excited that we were able to achieve this goal by September and hire student workers for the 2019-2020 academic year.
NR: Where does all of the produce go?
MT: During Summer:
There are founders farm stands on Fridays 12-2pm. Then there is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)–community members buy-in at the beginning of the season and come each week to pick up fresh produce from the farm. Finally we do some donations to St. Mary’s Episcapal Food Pantry and Bethel A.M.E. Church in Ardmore.
We have HCA farm stands (to reach more students, especially those off the meal plan). There’s a Fall Break Pantry in the MCC–we supply farm produce to the pantry over the breaks.
We use sliding scale principles (those who can pay more, do; those who can’t, don’t) are used in both the CSA and farm stand. We ask community members to pay for their produce on a sliding scale to ensure that everyone has equal access to the Haverfarm produce. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. HCA Gardens has always been “pick your own produce” for Haverford students and community members.
NR: How can students get involved?
MT: The P.E. program is the best way to get to know the ins and outs of the Haverfarm. In the P.E. class, students come to the farm for three hours a week and work on all aspects of farm upkeep, including seeding, planting, weeding, harvesting, and composting. The farm P.E. program occurs in the first and last quarters of the academic year. Beyond P.E., students are welcome at any and all of the farm volunteer days, workshops, and other events. These events are advertised on posters, farm social media, and the farm website.
NR: What’s the best way to find out up-to-date information about the farm?
MT: This fall, we worked with Jenn O’Donnell in Communications to build a Haverford website for the farm. Additionally, we are working to build a stronger social media presence this year. It has been very exciting to increase farm’s online presence and reach more members of the community.
Upcoming events at the farm include:
Volunteer Workday Tuesday 10/29 1-3pm
Fire Cider Workshop Thursday 11/7 6:30-7:30pm
End of Fall Workday (Arboretum) Saturday 11/16 12pm-3pm
Salve Workshop (Arboretum) Tuesday 11/19 6:30-7:30pm
Photographs by Ankith Suhas Pinnamaneni ‘23