What’s new at the farm? Hint: “Oink, oink!”

Pigs at Dickinson College Farm. Photo: Claire PersichettiIs it me or does it feel like autumn is ahead of schedule?  I was reminded the other day that the month of August is half over- where has the summer gone?!

With the end of August approaching, Matt and I are putting the finishing touches on the course that we will be co-teaching during the fall semester. Over the last twelve years, Matt and I have embarked upon many adventures together. However, co-teaching is uncharted territory for us!  With the syllabus 99% complete, we feel optimistic about the class ahead of us and the opportunity to share with others what we have learned over the years.

Adding teaching to our fall schedule has wide-ranging effects on how we envision the remaining months of our farming season.  It means that our four farm apprentices will be taking charge of Monday harvests, as well as managing students and volunteers.  All summer long, we have been priming our apprentices for the “next level” of their farm experience and the start of the semester represents a point of transition.  It is not always easy to balance the day’s “to do” list with managing others, troubleshooting unexpected snags, keeping plants happy and remembering to breathe!  Fortunately, we have a well-equipped group of apprentices who radiate positive energy and are ready to take on more management responsibilities.

“What’s new at the farm?” you might wonder since last time I wrote.  Though a very recent (on Friday!) addition to the farm family, we have four little—well, maybe not so little—pigs at the DC Farm. “Why pigs?!” you might ask.  The addition of pigs on the farm is a trial.  We are actually borrowing the pigs from a local farmer as an experimental means for clearing unwanted invasive vegetation in the woodlot.  Last fall, the DC Farm received funds to implement Agroforestry practices and the pigs are one means by which we hope to blend agriculture with forestry management.  Though I say “experimental”, raising pigs in the woods is not so uncommon.  We aim to manage them in a way that enables us to achieve our goal of reducing invasive species pressure without the use of herbicides, while also raising pork for sale.  If this trial run goes well, we will consider purchasing our own pigs in the spring to raise over the summer for targeted woodlot management, with pork to sell in the fall. We’ll keep you  posted! — Jenn

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