By MaryAlice Bitts
Photos by Jen Crowley ’12
Rain or shine, the Cumberland Valley Farm Tour must go on. So when they met with iffy weather on Oct. 1, the students at the Dickinson College Farm donned galoshes and gamely braved it.
Sponsored by the Penn State Extension office, the Cumberland County Planning Department and the Cumberland County Partners for Excellence in Agriculture, the annual, free tour raises public awareness about a key source of income for Cumberland County, home to an estimated 39,000 combined harvested acres for grain (corn and wheat), soybeans, vegetables and fruit.
This year’s event showcased innovative operations at Carlisle’s Hayman Farms and at Brymesser Farms and the Dickinson College Organic Farm, both in nearby Boiling Springs. Each tour explored unique facets of the agricultural industry.
Tourgoers at Brymesser Farms watched a cow-milking demonstration in a sustainable milking parlor powered by a newly installed solar-energy system. They also visited newborn calves in the calf barn. Learning was an adventure at Hayman Farms, where educational hayrides included explanations about daily operations and up-close views of beehives, cattle, chickens, horses and the Haymans’ collection of antique and vintage farm equipment. A children’s hay maze, corn maze, hay slide, petting zoo and duck-pump race ramped up the fun.
Leading-edge, sustainable agriculture was the name of the game at the Dickinson College Organic Farm, where innovative practices include rotational grazing and a model composting program. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., student guides offered information about the farm’s solar panels and solar-powered vehicle and composting system. Visitors also were invited to traipse through the greenhouses, inspect the newly upgraded irrigation system and beef-cattle herd and take in the farm’s new, interactive Teaching Garden, designed to explain Dickinson’s creative, environmentally friendly approaches to farming.