Bard’s Farm Nurtures Knowledge—and Vegetables
Harvesting vegetables on the Bard College Farm, from left, Nick Sugihara ’14,
Justin Gero ’13, Matthew Constantino ’13, Emily Wissemann ’14, and Ben
Photo by John-Paul Sliva
In the Bardian
The Bard College Farm, started earlier this year—with plenty of enthusiasm and financial assistance from Bard students, staff, and faculty, as well as community members—includes the largest cranberry bog in the Hudson Valley.
The farm grew out of the love Bard’s students, faculty, and staff have for its Community Garden, which has been a haven for agricultural enthusiasts since 1997. After several hundred students signed a petition requesting the creation of a farm, Bard administrators said the College would provide the bulk of the $60,000 needed if students could raise a third of it. Through a series of fundraisers, including an online campaign and a campus Farm Fest featuring Bard bands and local food, students topped the required $20,000 by early spring.
About 1.5 acres were tilled behind Ward Manor, and students, led by farm coordinator John-Paul Sliva, spread manure and leaf compost and readied the fence and irrigation systems. The farm is growing 30 kinds of vegetables, hops, and the cranberries—which no one else in the Hudson Valley is producing on a large scale. Students are learning to grow food in ways that are ecologically sound, demonstrate sustainable food production, and respond to the latest scientific and agricultural practices for growing crops.
The farm’s relationship with Chartwells, the campus dining service, is burgeoning. By midsummer, Chartwells had bought the farm’s basil, radishes, Swiss chard, and summer squash, with sales of additional vegetables expected. The festive dinner in the Spiegeltent prior to the opening concert of the Bard Music Festival featured green beans and potatoes from the Bard farm. Student farmers made pickles, sold spicy arugula pesto at the Red Hook Farmers Market, and hosted children from Hudson, New York, who were on campus for a basketball clinic. Food sustainability and the environment were discussed during the Language and Thinking Program's Farm Panel, and first-year students were encouraged to sign up for a farm work day, which was followed by a local farm dinner sponsored by Chartwells. This fall, members of Bard’s Lifetime Learning Institute are helping Bard students harvest vegetables that will be sold to Chartwells.
The farm’s goals are to sustain an organic farm that allows students to connect deeply with food and land through the processes of production, and providing local/sustainable produce to the school and community at large; to give students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to work on a farm and learn the skills needed to produce food organically and economically; to link classroom experiences and hands-on work in food production; and to model economically, and ecologically sustainable farming practices. Organizers also serve as a link to the community through workshops and children’s programming.Read the fall 2012 issue of the Bardian: