By Wendy Elliott
The Acadia Community Farm has just concluded its fourth successful growing season.
The university’s sustainability coordinator Jodie Noiles says, “it has grown - no pun intended - to become a community centre for the exchange of knowledge surrounding gardening, food and sustainable agriculture.”
During the summer, workshops were held on topics like permaculture and planting techniques. A preserving workshop featured recipes for sauerkraut, brined broccoli and Japanese Nukka mixed vegetables. Participants, like international student Natsumi Yokoi, took home three jars of preserves and a copy of each recipe.
The community farm was finally hooked up with water during one of the driest seasons on record.
Noiles said the community farm had a great season and several new programs were established. Acadia has designated a residence for students interested in sustainable food and farming. The new Farm-House is located at 58 University Avenue, right next door to the recently established Eco-House.
Noiles indicated that students in both residences aspire to live according to principles of sustainability. In Farm-House, there is a particular focus on food security, organic gardening and local food. The new Farmer in Residence, Rachel Eisener, coordinates house activities in addition to managing the Acadia Farm.
Eisener was also coordinator for Eco-House. The Farmer in Residence program, created in partnership with Student Affairs and the Arthur Irving Academy for the Environment, is a new opportunity for a student to serve in a leadership role.
Noiles said there is a move to return to the kind of farming operation that essentially supplied the university dining hall with produce, as was done a century ago.
She added that contributing to the food bank in Wolfville and fostering community plantings are also part of the farm’s mandate. There were 30 community plots this past season.
“Demand is increasing,” she said.
Two volunteers from the community tend the herb garden near Wheelock Hall as a labour of love, Noiles added.
As a resident of a big city like Osaka, Yokoi feels like she discovered nature since coming to Acadia in February. She says she got interested in, not only growing, but weeding and preserving.
“I have no place (to garden) at home, but if I have the chance I will do that,” Yokoi said.
The overall farm management team includes Eisener, Noiles, faculty advisor Alan Warner and members-at-large Liesel Carlsson, Kira McLean and Mike Belyea.
The Acadia Community Farm began in 2008 with the vision of providing local, organic produce to the dining hall at Acadia University, while also serving as a community garden.