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Photo by Ana Amberger ‘14 (Environmental Studies)

MARCH 2014 INSIDE THIS ISSUE: News from the Farm By Jenn Halpin


The Dirt

Original Oil Painting By Carley Zarzeka


News from the Farm

Finding Yourself in Farming By Sam Bogan


The Importance of Farm Education By Mackenzie Johnson


You’ll Get Up Because 7-8 You Have To. By Emily Bowie Landscape as Place By Kaitlin Soriano


Mornings to Remember By Molly Leach


Nutritional Anthropology By Cindy Baur


Effect of Roller 12-13 Crimpers at Dickinson College Farm By Will Kochtitzky The Art of Organic Farming By Molly Leach


English Agriculture: A 15-16 Fresh Perspective By Elena Capaldi


maintains a dynamic team of staff and students who are the backbone of all that is great about this place. They are the labor force, the tour guides, the youth educators, local food champions, mentors, innovators and so much more! In November of 2013, the College Farm “graduated” four amazing young women bound to instigate positive Snowy greetings from the change in the food system and who Dickinson College Farm! Our fields are off to varying reaches of the US and pastures are covered with a working on farms or food-related thick blanket of white tracked projects. In fact, 2013 marked the mostly with foot and paw prints of sixth season of our Apprenticeship all sizes and shapes heading in a Program-of which many graduates variety of directions - tracks from are still applying themselves as student farmers, livestock, Bella vehicles of change and as farmers. the farm dog, a stray cat living in Soon, we will have alumni highlights the barn and Rosco, our cat in hot added to the Farm’s web site so stay pursuit of setting boundaries with tuned to learn more about what her new feline friend. You’d think happens to farm grads (good things, that our farm might come to a we promise!) screeching halt during winters like this one yet there is always plenty In the fall of 2013 the College Farm of work to do, indoors and outside. launched P.O.P, otherwise known as The sheep, cows and chickens Pizza on the Plaza! As the name require regular attention – indicates, we are venturing into the chipping away at frozen water realm of prepared foods-meeting troughs, ensuring that water is students at their bellies with an age accessible to drink, clearing old comfort food. Using a mobile greenhouses of snow, shoveling wood-fired pizza oven, student pathways from point A to point B farmers and staff prepare fresh and the daily transport of food pizzas using ingredients grown on waste from campus to the College the farm and other local ingredients Farm. The snow has not like raw milk cheese and organic hampered our efforts and we are flour. POP has been a tremendous grateful for our student farmers success-happening once a month and their steadfast commitment to year round! farm work regardless of the weather outside. Other exciting news from the fall is the sale of over 700 pounds of grass“So, what have you been up to fed beef to the College Dining Hall. over the last year?”, one might 2013 marked the first year that the ask. “Where to begin?!”, I’d reply. College Farm achieved raising its The last year was a great one and own beef cows for slaughter, there is much to be thankful for! supplying the dining hall with grassFor starters, the College Farm fed burgers. We are extremely

proud of this accomplishment and credit Farmer Matt and past apprentices for their pasture management and approach to animal care that is rooted in respect. We are experimenting with beef jerky recipes so who knows what the future holds. Field-based research continues on the farm, addressing production challenges like pest and disease control, wildlife habitat, GIS for pasture management, holistic livestock care, silvopasture, stabilization of stream banks and improved systems for data collection. The Farm collaborates with departments ranging from Computer Science, Biology and ALLARM to outside agencies like the Bureau of Forestry on these various research topics, enhancing student participation with the farm and overall program improvements. Looking ahead to the upcoming growing season in 2014, we are expanding our production fields to include an additional 8 acre parcel of crop land. We will focus on building soil health on this land for the coming years and use it as a site for experimental crops, as well as ground for growing more of the staple crops that we supply to the Dining Hall. We anticipate a fruitful lambing AND calving season this spring, too! Calving is uncharted territory for us but luckily the mama cows will (hopefully) do most of the work and not need as much assistance as our ewes! Like any farm, we aim to make improvements both large and small each and every year- crop rotation, seed saving, increased plant vitality, fun projects, you name it! We invite you to come and take a look at what we are doing! We’d love to see you!



Original Oil Painting CARLEY ZARZEKA ‘15 (ART & ART HISTORY)







Finding Yourself in Farming


When searching for substance in your writing, begin writing. Do not pause until a sentence, a thought, has caught your attention. As simple as it is, the act of doing triggers a number of cognitive processes that would remain dormant if you were to continue occupying your time by rubbernecking a blank sheet, piling up a traffic jam in your head, decelerating your pace of thought. I have come to college with a goal just as any other student I’ve encountered. If college were a book, I would imagine it to be a choose-yourown-adventure novel, a story dense with an archive of possibilities and at the lower left corner a scrawled message that reads, “Proceed to page 37 to sell your soul to organic chemistry. Turn to page 102 to become an environmental science major instead.” That would be a page out of my book. A dumbfounded sophomore finds himself lost in

thought at a fork in the road. Both paths wind toward a desired career in the study of ecology, but the substance, the application of why he seeks to do this, is unknown to the young man. He has caught himself gawking at the fenderbender of his sophomore slump. The sophomore slump is a paralysis not so unlike that of writer’s block. You understand what you are supposed to do, but not how to do it. Without the inspiration from the new experiences of freshman year, a junior year abroad or the savoring of your final moments as a senior the road to graduation may seem lengthy and daunting. Farming, as it seems, is a lot like writing. It is one of those basic human practices that distinguish we writers and farmers from the intuition and sinew of all other beings that trot, swim, and crawl the course of life. The farmer sustains our nourishment. The writer nourishes our mind. Compelled and inspired by what they love, the bookworm and the foodie will often pick up the pen or the hoe, aspiring to become a more active

“Compelled and inspired by what they love, the bookworm and the foodie will often pick up the pen or the hoe, aspiring to become a more active participant of the world they relish.”

participant of the world they relish. It is expected that one write a lot in college. Due date after due date yields theses, peer reviews, précis, blogs, critical analysis, and the works. Indeed it activates the cogs and gears churning inside of he or she’s head, but it is mere speculation. To be educated, to discover the world and oneself within it, exposure is paramount. I have come to find that exposure is the common denominator of farming and education. While farming, one’s back is exposed to the sun. Hands are subject to abrasion, but the farmer is also confronted by goals. As a student, my goals are set to meet my needs. Within farming, a goal must meet the needs of the producer and the consumer. This two-headed effort it is accomplished by the swelling force of a team. To succeed in farming and sustain the venture of food production,


Drawing by Cindy Baur ‘16 (Anthropology)

“The connectivity between my major and agriculture seem infinite in part because agriculture addresses the necessity of food within all flora, fauna, and mega fauna such as ourselves.”

this team must understand the biological composition of their land, utilize handiwork skills, organize and plan crop rotations, construct a functioning leadership structure market, effectively distribute their product, and educate. It should be of no surprise that farming in a collegiate setting is gaining notoriety. Farming provides the exposure and the act of doing that is so vital to a student’s life.

“To farm is to do, and in a setting where there seems to be an overwhelming number of paths, the act of doing can connect them into a path of your own.”

I came to college to study the science of life holding tightly to a few words of advice to follow what I find beautiful and see where it takes me. In an unexpected nuance of irony, I found it difficult to relate biology to my life at first, but I stayed my course and continued to search for connections. Nine months after my first day of work at the College Farm at Dickinson, I have unearthed this connection. In Man and Nature, written by George Perkins Marsh, he writes on the ignorance of human society to its ignorant relationship with nature. “He has ruthlessly warred on all the tribes of animated nature who could convert to his own uses, and he has not protected the birds which prey on the insects most destructive to his own harvests.” The College Farm was a natural history museum in itself, boasting biological interaction after interaction in its experimentation with permaculture, integrated pest management, disease control, and habitat construction. The scope of biological processes within the agricultural process begin with functions as miniscule as microbial fixation of nitrogen and extend as macroscopically as food distribution’s effect upon populations throughout the globe. The connectivity between my major and agriculture seem infinite in part because agriculture addresses the necessity of food within all flora, fauna, and mega fauna such as ourselves. Food is the fuel of life. No matter what you may find or found yourself studying in college, I guarantee it is applicable to farming. This true whether your field be economics, international policy, engineering, and yes, even English. There are very few practices so fundamental to our welfare. The momentum that farming both for education and production has gained within the nation’s colleges and universities has been generated as a result of an increased comprehension of how valuable an understanding of organic agriculture can be for a hungry mind. Regardless of whether this understanding provides direction, it certainly equips today’s students with valuable knowledge in a culture that is beginning to move forward on conventional agricultural reform. For this reform to occur, the management of our country’s farmland must be more distributed. Therefore, we need more farmers. We need more support for local agriculture. More than anything, we need to decrease the distance between the consumer and the producer. A college that has an organic farm provides its students with the means to accomplish all of these. An educational resource that has the capacity to provide personal inspiration, rely upon students and the greater community, and instill a progressive and vital understanding of one of life’s necessities is a resource that is of utmost importance. To farm is to do, and in a setting where there seems to be an overwhelming number of paths, the act of doing can connect them into a path of your own. It is with pride that I say that when I will reflect on my life at college I will render the unique image of walking into a dining hall caked in mud, comforted by the fact that I am not alone in this peculiar fashion statement.

MARCH 2014


The Importance of Farm Education MACKENZIE JOHNSON ’16 master the register (SPANISH, POLICY MANAGEMENT) that one working in the soil or planning a night. When my boss asked us to harvest that lets me know that farms load up into the bed of the farm will always be a part of my life. truck in order to tour the farm, my However, a huge part of me wishes irritation only grew, as I that I had discovered this sooner, was certainly not dressed “There is a particular feeling that I get when and that it had always been for being out in the drizzly something I had done. In a way, it weather. The fields were I’m working in the soil or planning a harvest completes and connects my ethics mostly separated from that lets me know that farms will always be a around land, the environment, and the farm stand, so I had personal health and responsibility. not previously seen where part of my life. However, a huge part of me I can easily recall four years ago in the late spring, heading down the street to the farm stand where I would work during the summer for our new employee orientation. It was my junior year

the produce was growing. The rickety truck bumped that it had always been something I had done. over divots in the dirt road made by the rain. In a way, it completes and connects my ethics About six of us broke through the line of trees, around land, the environment, and personal entering into the field of health and responsibility.“ strawberries and chard and kale. of high school, notoriously the Instantly, I was awestruck most challenging and least with what was in front of me in every balanced year. That evening, I sense – the smells, the visuals, the was heavily distressed by the physics assignment I had to do as sounds. For me, this was the well as the sleep I was supposed moment in which farms clicked for me, and I was immediately and to get, and was not pleased passionately hooked. There is a about leaving my work to particular feeling that I get when I’m exchange pleasantries with future coworkers.

wishes that I had discovered this sooner, and

Upon arriving, I maintained my dejected attitude; learning names was something I could do later and I certainly didn’t expect to

While I recognize that not all people may feel the way that I do about soil structure and composition, there are a multitude of approaches and avenues through which people can become interested in sustainable agriculture. A spiritual connection with the land, a love of animals, or an interest in chemistry represent a small collection of what can draw people in. Having found myself drawn in, and some of my peers as well, I eventually began to see that this knowledge of the multifaceted field needed to be spread to those who would internalize its lessons and carry them


through their lives. This translated into a desire to teach kids some very basic, simple lessons about care for bodies and earth. Farm Cook Eat, the after-school program taught at Letort Elementary school in Carlisle, aims to provide this kind of farm education to a group of third and fourth graders every semester. As coordinator of this program, I try to keep my story in mind, so that I can help the students cultivate their passions and have their awestruck moments by following whatever it is that they find exciting. Watching them manipulate the vermicompost in front of them, simultaneously disgusted and interested, makes me feel as though the messages are getting through. Even if the information the students receive does not translate into a moral that specifically states, “I care about the Earth, believe sustainable agriculture is the best way to reap food from it, and am interested in using that food to take care of my body,” there has been a certain degree of exposure to the food system and how it could be different. In some ways, I see a definite disconnect between the students, their food, and nutrition. When asked their favorite food in the first class, most students said hamburgers, pizza, or tacos, all from fast food chains. During the class in which we learn to read nutrition fact labels, almost every student asked to eat the bag of Lay’s® chips that I insisted was expired. While I would love for every student to immediately take to the idea of kale chips, I understand that the reality is very different for young persons of only nine years. There are other moments when I see that the students I teach have much more knowledge of the organic food movement than I grew up with; most kids know right away what the difference between organic and conventional foods are. This makes me hopeful for the progression of the type of agriculture in which I believe and the College Farm practices. Overall, the experience of teaching in this way fosters a strongly interconnected community between the College Farm, Carlisle citizens, and Dickinson students that shares and spreads a common set of ideas. Farming and educating through farming will most likely remain an essential aspect of my life.

“The experience of teaching in this way fosters a strongly interconnected community between the College Farm, Carlisle citizens, and Dickinson students that shares and spreads a common set of ideas.”


ISS UE 7, 2014

You'll get up because you have to.



“Not for the first time I envy their heavy coats. Sheep never seem to notice how cold it is.”

My alarm rings. 7:00am. Huddled under the world's biggest comforter I groan and close my eyes. It doesn't make much of a difference though, it's just as dark on the other side of my eyelids. Before I have the chance to fall back asleep I take a deep breath, brace myself for the cold, and throw the comforter off. As I shiver against the cold air my body instantly awakens. Not for the first time I grumble at myself for agreeing to this job – what a way to spend winter break.

I grope for the light while simultaneously pulling on my purple long johns and dirty jeans. Roscoe, the cat that has become my sole confidant, meows at the door, tail waving in impatience. After throwing on my undershirt and Smartwool socks I grab my knife from the nightstand and half walk, half slide down the wooden stairs.

In a still-waking, habitual, automatic state I feed Roscoe, throw on three sweatshirts, a hat, scarf and my boots and look frantically for my “Huddled under the world's biggest missing glove. By now the sun is peaking up comforter I groan and close my eyes. over the horizon. I chug a full glass of It doesn't make much of a difference water, lace up my boots, and stomp out though, it's just as dark on the other the door.

side of my eyelids.”

It's cold. It's

really freaking cold. Something around -10 degrees, my phone tells me. With the wind-chill, who knows. Roscoe shoots by me in determination, seemingly unconcerned about the temperature. Stomping through the snow-turned-ice I grab feed from the barn and head to the chickens. They've been calling for me since the sun first thought about coming up. I open their door to satisfy their pleas. Instantly, they move to escape their confinement but stop in confusion when they meet the morning's cold air and see the new layer of snow on the ground. After five minutes of coaxing and some serious bribing with food they hesitantly hop out, one by one. The gator, our diesel powered farm cart, is too cold to start. So I drag the garden cart with hay up hill by hand to the sheep. I hear them before I round the corner - they're staring at me, noses pressed through the gate bars, faces framed by frozen clouds of their breath. I bring them their feed first, distributing it evenly between five bins so they don't trample each other trying to get to it. In the process, however, they almost trample me. Then I drag


their hay in to fill the feeder. Not for the first time I envy their heavy coats. Sheep never seem to notice how cold it is. From here, I walk along the fence up into the fields, across the property to the cows. As I climb uphill the wind gets brutal, I wrap my scarf around my face and pull my hood tight. I hear the cows running along the fence beside me, eager for water. When it's cold they huddle in the far corner of their pasture at the bottom of the hill to escape the wind. But now they're thirsty, since their water bin has been frozen for most of the night. When I reach their water I finally look up out of my hood and scarf. Instantly, I'm blinded by the sun. When my eyes adjust I pause, stunned by the beauty of the morning. The sun has breached the frozen soy field horizon and is seemingly burning a hole into the bluest sky I've ever seen. The sight of it almost starts to thaw me. The cows, anxious in nature, are huddled feet away, their wide and innocent eyes begging me for hydration. I hack for them at the frozen bucket with a hammer and spray myself with cold water and ice chucks. When I finally start the hose, chaos ensues. It's chaos, but it's organized chaos. The bull goes first, using his massive bulk to push the females out of the way. When he's done the younger cows push through. The older, white-faced cows lick ice chunks as they wait for their turn. Twenty minutes later they're all satisfied and I'm able to actually start filling the bucket. Now, with chores almost finished and my brain at a working capacity, I start to contemplate the course of my day. It's only nine – I have hours ahead of me. As I yawn the remains of sleep away the hose jerks out of my hand. I turn around in surprise and the calf jumps back in fright at my movement. I burst out laughing as she timidly noses the hose and starts drinking, eyes never leaving mine. I suppose she's not a calf anymore, but she's still little enough to be at the very bottom of the drinking hierarchy. When she's done, I turn off the water and put away the hose. Before I go back, however, I watch the cows. They have returned to their feeder and munch away at a bale I know I will have to replace tomorrow. But for now I don't dwell on whether or not the tractor will start or how frozen my hands will be when I'm done. Instead, I'm drinking in the sight of the sun on their coats and the beautiful combination of black, brown and white against the turquoise of the background. In my fourth year at the Dickinson College Farm I have logged countless hours at the farm but until now I have never understood the true dedication required by farming – especially when you're alone. It doesn't matter how tired you are, what time it is, or how cold it might be outside. You'll get up, because you have to. You'll take care of them, because if you don't, no one will. You're serving them, not the other way around. It's the simplest and most beautiful of things, having a purpose to wake up for.

“You're serving them, not the other way around. It's the simplest and most beautiful of things, having a purpose to wake up for.”


Landscape as Place

“As I sit on the hilltop in the back pasture of the College Farm, I reflect on the hours of physical labor I have invested in the landscape and the emotional support I’ve received in return.”

Central Pennsylvania is often characterized as farm country. Driving along 81 South, the smell of cow manure, roar of tractors, rolling green hills of monocultures, and the bright red silos, is enough evidence to cause anyone to make that characterization. Each farm has its place in the agricultural processes of Pennsylvania, specializing in different growing methods and even values. I never thought that after my first glimpse of Central Pennsylvania two years ago, I would find myself to be physically and emotionally connected to a single piece of land. As I sit on the hilltop in the back pasture of the College Farm, I reflect on the hours of physical labor I have invested in the landscape and the emotional support I’ve received in return. I felt a brief sensation of sadness as I looked over the snow laden pasture and production fields because there was no color, no direct signs of life aside from the small sapling trees that were just planted in the pasture. Then I reminded myself, that unlike other farms, this farm is alive and undergoing natural processes 365 days a year. The garlic that was planted this fall is germinating under the soil, the cover crops that were disked into the fields are providing nutrients to the soil which are vital for spring planting, and the animals that live on the

“A dimension of human well-being is a sense of place and belonging.”


ISS UE 7, 2014


land are also enriching the soil through grazing patterns. The individuality of this landscape is seen through the natural processes that the farm undergoes as well as the human manipulation that is incurred for the benefit of the surrounding environment.

From my spot on the hill, I was reassured of the importance of this farm in life on earth. The five production fields that are in my sight provide healthy, organic, and sustainable food to the greater Carlisle community, and

also support ecological life. Those who consume the produce from the farm are making a conscious decision to support best practices in the environment since the farm is USDA organic certified. More importantly, customers are nourishing their bodies and their family’s with natural ingredients that will only improve one’s wellbeing. Furthermore, the crops that grow in the production fields need to be pollinated by the insect population and in return the insects have a food source available to them. In the larger picture, this one farm supports many kinds of biological life that would suffer without its existence.

The College Farm supports my physical well-being through labor and nutrition, but also my emotional and mental wellbeing. A dimension of human well-being is a sense of place and belonging. The monotony of daily college life, stress, and anxiety has impacted my mental and emotional well-being over the past two years and I know that I am not the only student with these sentiments. The College Farm provides myself and other students with a safe haven and natural good-feeling

vibes. I smile in the spring and summer when my hands are in the dirt and I smile in the winter looking out over the snow laden ground because I feel as though I have a place to belong to. It does not judge, ridicule, or mock, but supports, strengthens, and rejuvenates all those who step foot on its landscape. From my spot on the hill, I painted the importance of the College Farm into a picture: one place sustaining itself, its environment, and all those who support it.


Mornings to Remember MOLLY LEACH ‘14 (FRENCH, ART & ART HISTORY)

I wake in the morning with a warm cup of joe Boots on my feet and outside I go, The air is as crisp as a fresh picked Gingergold Clearing my mind with every breeze that now flows.

Exist in the sunrise, the warmth that it brings The wind filled with sounds of birds that all sing, Bella jumping for joy and chasing the crows, Best way to start the day, everyone knows.







Nutritional Anthropology CINDY BAUR ‘16 (ANTHROPOLOGY) Last semester I took a class called Nutritional Anthropology that encouraged me to become more involved at the farm. Throughout the course, Professor Karen Weinstein (Anthropology Department) shared with us her passion for biological anthropology, health and nutrition studies, and her research on the energy balances of farm workers in Tanzania and at our own Dickinson Farm. Her passion for the subject was present in every discussion and each assignment. She truly wanted us to take advantage of the unique location of Dickinson, right at the heart of the local food movement in central Pennsylvania. Although this was not a lab course, we still had “lab” assignments in which we had to do some sort of hands-on work. My favorite of the three labs involved volunteering for a shift at the farm. This was not my first time volunteering at the farm. Early in my first year at Dickinson I went to the farm a few times and helped harvest tomatoes and beans. I stopped going because the work was extremely exhausting and I wasn’t sure I was ready to give up my naptimes. However, when it came time to go back to the farm to complete this assignment I was really excited. It was a mild, sunny day that was neither too cold nor too hot. I went with a few other students from our class along with Professor Weinstein. When we got there, the interns instructed us on our task for the day: harvesting beans. At first, the work seemed simple. This quickly changed as I realized once again that work at the farm is exhausting. I was constantly bending over and standing up as I ripped out bean plants alongside my classmates. Everyone had to be vigilant about which piles contained which type of bean and it was hard to remember everything. While the work was demanding, the beans were beautiful. The first kind of bean that we collected

“Throughout the course, Professor Karen Weinstein was a beautiful speckled eggplant-colored bean. Eventually other beans appeared, such as speckled tan, white, red, brown, and black. There were certain beans with flesh-colored speckles that complimented the tanned skin of each intern, proof that they had been working in the sun all summer long. One of the ideas that I thought a lot about during that shift at the farm stemmed from a comment that one of my classmates made. She pointed out that the work we were doing wasn’t very rewarding. She also said that she’d probably be more invested if she had been there for the entire season. This made me realize that each plant would be an opportunity to have something to be proud of: a tangible product of work that, while physically demanding, has the potential to do a lot of good. This realization is just one part of a large lesson I learned from that class. Nutritional Anthropology taught me the importance of local food and I am excited that I have been given the chance to be part of this movement at the farm.


shared with us her passion for biological anthropology, health and nutrition studies, and her research on the energy balances of farm workers in Tanzania and at our own Dickinson Farm.”

ISS UE 7, 2014


Effect of Roller Crimpers on the Soil Moisture, Permeability, Worm Count, Texture, Weed Presence, and Compaction of the Dickinson College Farm


“The roller/crimper...helps the farm to improve soil quality, increase crop yields, and decrease labor alongside traditional-till-organic agricultural practices.”

Last semester at the Dickinson College Farm I studied the roller/crimper, which helps the farm to improve soil quality, increase crop yields, and decrease labor alongside traditional-till “Tilling traditionally kills off much of the -organic agricultural practices, in an effort to soil life due to a rapid change in and better understand the potential role of the disruption of the organism’s habitat. If roller/crimper technology in no-till the farm is able to reduce tilling by using organic agriculture. I was able to time the roller crimper, soil life will be able to permeability, measure compaction, read soil accumulate and should help to increase moisture, complete a

soil fertility.” THE DIRT

ISS UE 7, 2014

worm count, interpret weeds and find soil texture. This process has left me with a better understanding of the soil at the Dickinson College Farm and allows for continued exploration of the roller/crimper. The roller/crimper has the ability to play a role in creating a no-till agricultural system at the college farm that can help save labor and increase crop yields. I originally hypothesized that the woodlot would yield the best results; however, the data suggests that field V (the roller/crimper field) is a reasonable alternative to traditional organic practices as it out performed the other test areas in several key measures. Additionally, the woodlot was never put into agriculture production due to its soil characteristics, including the dike running through it. The Rodale Institute has developed the roller/ crimper that is helping farmers realize no-till agricultural production. The roller/crimper rolls over cover crops to flatten and kill the plant, causing it to die in place (Mirsky et al., 2013). This system allows for the biomass to stay within the system and build up soil nutrients over time because the cover crop stays on the field as mulch

MARCH 2014

and is eventually reincorporated into the soil by organisms and decay (Mirsky et al., 2013). This process can save farmers time, labor, and money while maintaining high yields (O’Brien, 2013). The Dickinson College farm has begun to experiment with the Roller/Crimper, as it is important to understand the effect on soils as the technology is developed and used. Six soil metrics were used in this research project: permeability, compaction, water moisture (by volume), worm count, texture and weeds as indicators. Together, these tests quantify the soil health and allow us to compare results among fields. Tests were conducted in three places: Field J (traditionaltill), Field V (no-till/roller-crimper), and the Woodlot. A full set of tests were completed on both September 22 and 28, 2013. The permeability tests show that water takes the least amount of time to dissipate in field V. These preliminary permeability tests show that there is improved soil permeability with the use of a Roller/Crimper over tradition till agriculture. The soil in field J (tilled) is the least compacted followed by field V (roller-crimper) and then the woodlot. When land is not tilled or left as forest, compaction increases with time due to settling and machinery load, and we can see this same result in our data in that the tilled field (J) is the least compacted. It is difficult to draw conclusions about soil moisture due to irrigation and weather. Irrigation amounts were not calculated in these results, forcing us to throw the data out on soil moisture. More work needs to be done in order to understand soil moisture levels as it


pertains to the roller-crimper.

Works Cited

Perhaps the most interesting result I received is that during the time of study, worms were only present in Field V (rollercrimper field). With the use of the rollercrimper and remaining cover crop, more organic matter is able to accumulate in field V. Tilling traditionally kills off much of the soil life due to a rapid change in and disruption of the organism’s habitat. If the farm is able to reduce tilling by using the roller crimper, soil life will be able to accumulate and should help to increase soil fertility.

Mirsky, S., Ryan, M., Teasdale, J., Curran, W., Reberg-Horton, C., Spargo, J., Wells, M., Keene, C., and Moyer, J. 2013. Overcoming weed management challenges in cover crop-based organic rotational no-till soybean production in the eastern United States. Weed Technology. 27: 193-203.

This study shows that the use of the roller/ crimper can be more effective than traditional till agriculture. However, its use will be farm and crop specific because each farm and crop, has a different set of resource needs and resource availability. The roller/crimper technique should be used where it is most advantageous. Tomatoes, as studied here, are an example because the dead cover crop acts as mulch that would otherwise have to be manually applied. The Dickinson College Farm should strive towards systems in which functions are stacked such that each action accomplishes more for each applied unit of work.

This essay was adapted from a research paper. If you would like the full paper, please email

“This study shows that the use of the roller/crimper can be more effective than traditional till agriculture. However, its use will be farm and crop specific because each farm and crop, has a different set of resource needs and resource availability.”

O'Brien, D. 2009. Rolling out cover crops for higher yields and improved soil quality. Agricultural Research 61(2): 6-7.


The Art of Organic Farming


Organic farming is more than simply the production of tasty, fresh food.

I don’t have a whole lot of farming experience, but I do a lot of art, and the more I do both the closer they come to one another. Art is incredible in that it is a pure expression of the inner thoughts and subconscious. You can create anything from nothing, facing endless challenges and obstacles as you try to get to your vague and let’s face it, Photo by Ana Amberger ‘14 (Environmental Studies) mostly unknown, destination. In growing a farm, you start with land, your blank page, and from that you start creating a space that wasn’t there before. With dirty hands and tired eyes you watch as your page slowly begins to take shape, morphing into a creature that was so hard to imagine prior to the start of your adventure. You change things when two lines don’t mesh well together, troubleshooting as you try to find the best path to take into the next part of the drawing. When you finally step back for a moment, what you see is more than what is on face value. You see the hours and the hard work, the tests, setbacks, the tears and pained hands, the breakthroughs and joys. You look out over the rolling hills of shadows and lines, breathing in the atmosphere that you created. The work is not done, but “With dirty hands and tired you feel bliss; satisfaction in all that has gone into creating what is now before your eyes, and courage to eyes you watch as your continue moving forward.

page slowly begins to take shape, morphing into a Organic farming is more than simply the production of tasty, fresh food. Organic farming is art.

creature that was so hard to imagine prior to the start of your adventure.”

MARCH 2014


English Agriculture: A Fresh Perspective As I dream about the ELENA CAPALDI ‘14 (ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES, ECONOMICS) approach of Spring, it environmental issues as the United The gigantic size of the United States seems appropriate to reflect on my States contends with, including makes us one of the largest exporters time abroad in England last Spring. nitrogen runoff, poor soil quality, and of globally used crops such as soy, A little more than a year ago I concentrations of animal manure. My wheat, and corn. The United Kingdom found out I was accepted to the professor, John Turner, made jokes is, in contrast, a much smaller isolated University of East Anglia’s College about how “us Americans” are more at island when it comes to imports and of Environmental Science. The fault for our reliance on mechanized exports of crops...or so I thought. course structure at an English agricultural, how we don’t know how university is much different than at Imbued with images of peasants toiling to feed cows grass, and other in the fields, the first day of classes a liberal arts college in the states, comments of that nature. We began. Our professor introduced us to and I spent much time deciding “Americans” counter-argued with the the United Nations FAO Database---a what courses I was able to take. growing small-scale and organic really interesting way to spend an Ultimately I selected my course movement in our own country. This afternoon if you start to manipulate loads with a course in Food brought me to the realization that the many statistics available. We Domestication and Sustainability stereotypes and perceptions between compared data sets of carbon and discovered that three other emissions, agricultural exports, and economic exchanges across several different countries, and in the process I learned about Britain’s food power globally. Over the course of the class I received a framework for understanding “This connection to food was hunger and just food distribution, something I had only seen agriculture in paralleled in the form of less- the face of climate change, as well as frequent farmers markets in British historical the States, yet the people of and cultural connections to food and Norfolk got to interact with farming. Dickinson students had signed up as well. Having looked at this topic in a Dickinson archaeology class I was surprised to see the course listed under Biology, and furthermore that it was being taught by a veteran microbiologist whose specialization was in transgenic crops! What had I signed up for?!

these vendors every day.”

Industrialized agriculture has given England similar

Easter Roast dinner with grass-fed beef raised by the next-door neighbor in Gillingham, Dorset County.


Shetland Cattle at Easton Agricultural College, Norfolk County

countries are sometimes unfounded, even between people of similar interests. Part of cultural exchange, therefore, is about not merely the exchange of knowledge, but challenging these perceptions through immersion and engaged conversations.

Norfolk is known for its pig farming as well, and it’s pork is delicious! The Norwich City market is a daily mix of vendors, in existence since the Middle Ages, selling everything from vacuum cleaner parts to local produce. Many times I stopped to pick up local eggs, cabbage, carrots, cuts of meat, and cheeses. This connection to food was something I had only seen paralleled in the form of lessfrequent farmers markets in the States, yet the people of Norfolk got to interact with these vendors everyday. In fact I would often hear noisy exchanges amongst shoppers and vendors as goods were exchanged. Even in the largest city, London, I was fortunate to

be taken to a rooftop garden aptly named “Food From the Sky.� This enterprise had a partnership with the commercial supermarket situated under in that allowed it to sell its organically grown herbs and vegetables to the citizens of Crouch End. In this way, local connections to food were being strengthened, even in one of the most metropolitan cities in the world. This was incredibly empowering, because this was the same work I hope to get into after college! This course provided the framework for allowing me to explore food culture in practice as I traveling across the UK. I saw parallels between what I was eating and what I had learned about in class whenever I stopped to have a meal. This appreciation and connection to food and farming is tantamount to creating a just and sustainable food system. I discovered the world has a lot to show England, but yet England has a lot to share with the world.

Being abroad while exploring issues surrounding food lead me to appreciate the rich historical context England has with her land. Several trips, hikes, and brewery tours illustrated this connection more deeply. I learned that the area of Burton-on-Trent has some of the best waters for beer brewing due to unique geological composition that has a high mineral and calcium content. I learned that the English grow sugar beets for making into refined sugar; Americans, instead, rely on refined and imported sugar cane. In the county of Norfolk I hiked past fields of golden rapeseed coming into bloom, a cooking oil This greenhouse structure is made from thousands of that is popular in the plastic water bottles and the growing bins are UK the way that repurposed city recycling bins. Food from the Sky in canola oil is in North America.

Crouch End, London.

The Dickinson College Farm is a 50-acre working and

Dickinson College Farm

educational farm that is Certified Organic. Located just 6 miles

553 Park Dr.

from campus, the farm maintains eight to ten acres in food

Boiling Springs, PA 17007 Phone: 717-245-1969 Email:

production in a given year. A significant portion of the harvest is earmarked for the campus dining hall and the farm’s Campus Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program, which feeds over 130 families. The farm also maintains a thriving stand at Carlisle’s seasonal market, Farmers On The Square, and donates thousands of pounds of fresh produce to a local food bank, Project S.H.A.R.E, throughout the growing season. Dickinson College students assist with all aspects of the farm’s food production as employees or volunteers. In addition to raising certified organic produce and four types of livestock, the farm supports the academic interests of students and faculty, promotes renewable energy through solar applications and builds a greater awareness among students about how food is generated using techniques that help sustain natural ecosystems.

2014 the dirt e pub  

The 2014 issue of our annual farm e-publication The Dirt is out! We are grateful for the breadth of perspectives offered by the student farm...

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