Summer at the Farm

18 September 2015

Farmers Brent & Walter 2015.JPG

As some of you may know, Carleton has our very own student farm. During the year, students can volunteer to get their hands dirty and help pick the fruits and vegetables growing there. However, during the summer with many students gone from campus, the picking is in the hands of the summer farm interns.

This past summer, Brent Murcia ’16 and Walter Edstrom ’17 were the two summer farm interns. This summer they picked over 1,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables but they still have a long way to go with the harvest so this could easily be doubled. While poundage can be misleading, the farm has been doing very well. Once they pick the vegetables, they sell them to Bon Appetit. Occasionally, WHOA house, Farm house, and farm volunteers receive some of the food.

According to Brent, the mild winter didn’t mean much for the growing season other than starting it a bit earlier than usual. What was really beneficial to the growing season was the abundance of rain after a couple of dry spells at the beginning of the summer. With this amount of rain, Brent and Walter barely had to water the plants to keep them alive and thriving!

Brent kindly shared one of the many funny moments they had this summer. He said it occurred when they seeded a cover crop of clover on one of the fields, but it never showed up. Instead, they were surprised to find thousands of tomatillo plants that came from seeds that were left in the ground from last year. It worked as a cover crop, but it was pretty funny! Unfortunately they were so densely packed that they didn’t really produce much (or rather, Brent and Walter couldn’t pick all the plants), but they were fun to show off!

Brent also mentioned a lot of animal encounters they had this summer— mostly with deer eating the food. At one point during the summer, Brent was standing in the middle of a field and a deer walked into it, about 100 feet from him, looked him straight in the eye and proceeded to eat the chard. Brent chased it with a shovel and it just merrily trotted away. The deer were really bold, leaving the farm interns defenseless.

While they were battling the deer, however, they were enjoying the company of a juvenile hawk that was learning to fly and hunt on the farm. As Brent shared, one time, the hawk landed in the eggplant and actually tasted a plant. It would often land just a few feet away from Brent and Walter. It was also constantly making a lot of noise and calling for its parents, but it was a lot of fun to have around. Now the hawk is grown, but still hangs around the farm with the parents.

After an eventful summer of picking thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetables, and funny encounters with animals, Brent is excited about getting new students involved in the farm and trying to make what they do visible to a lot of people on campus. The farm is a really cool thing that we have and he thinks it would be great if more students were engaged with it.

If people want to check out the farm, come volunteer Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3-6pm every week until there’s nothing left to pick!