The Farm to Table Movement at Nobles by Erika Guy, Dean of Students
As we all impatiently and anxiously await the first glimpse of spring in New England, my mind is already focused squarely upon the upcoming growing season. In the fall of 2011, after the first ever Nobles Summer Farm and Food Systems service trip, two brave students signed up for an entrepreneurial Afternoon Program option: organic gardening. The Castle renovation and construction project were in full swing so instead of breaking new ground for this venture, we opted instead to begin small: we resurrected two neglected raised bed gardens on the campus and spent much of the fall, cutting overgrown brush, tilling neglected soil, testing soil samples and providing the necessary fertilizer to nourish the beds for the following spring planting season. We filled our afternoons with all manner of food-related activities: we went apple picking, we made apple crisp, we experimented with natural dyes for eggs, we visited farmer’s markets and community gardens, we made pesto, etc. After building a hoop house for one of our gardens, we put them to bed for the winter. In the spring of 2012, six adventurous students signed on for the Afternoon Program option of gardening and NOW we had work to do! We prepped and planted EARLY with our fingers crossed that a late frost would not thwart our overanxious efforts. We were lucky. The early plantings of tomatoes and peppers survived and as the end of the term arrived, we handed the reigns of the garden over to our summer Upward Bound program teammates, who weeded, tended and harvested in our absence.
In the meantime, the Summer Food Trip 2012 was a success and Food Trip 2013 is in the works for early June. As with the previous two, this summer’s group will spend a week in rural New Hampshire, volunteering at an organic farm four hours each day. During the remainder of the time, the group visits local artisanal food producers: Grafton Village Cheese, Orchard Hill Breadworks, Wichland Woods Mushroom Growers, Walpole Creamery, Country Critters Goat Cheese, etc. Over this past year, Nobles was also able to secure a gardening grant from the Whole Foods Company and beginning in early April, a group of faculty and students will break ground on the new and much improved, Nobles organic garden. The site is between the Castle and Wiggins Dorm and once the students depart campus in June, we have 16 Nobles faculty/staff families signed on to help tend our small farm over the summer months. I hope you will wander by at some point this spring to see how the “farm to table movement” is progressing at Nobles.
Now, back to my day job…
Thanks for reading.