Moo-ving to the farm
New livestock additions to change Campus Garden, improve soil conditions
New seasons bring change, and this fall, the Liberty University Morris Campus Farm is updating, expanding and improving with the changing season.
Within the past month, the Morris Campus Garden changed its name to the Morris Campus Farm. Primarily a vegetable garden practicing sustainable agriculture, the Campus Farm plans to incorporate livestock in order to improve soil conditions.
According to Campus Farm Manager Alicia Cripe, the name change was inspired by the addition of livestock to the land.
“Most people think of a farm rather than a garden if it includes livestock,” Cripe said.
The long-term plan for the farm is to incorporate chickens, both egg layers and meat birds, pigs and cows to the landscape.
“The animals will be part of a multi-species, intensive rotational grazing system where the livestock will be periodically moved to fresh paddocks to allow pastures time to regrow before being grazed again,” Cripe said.
This method of farming is modeled after the pasture-based, organic farming of Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm located in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia.
“This system not only provides animals with fresh pasture, it allows the land to absorb the nutrients from manure more evenly and gives grass time to regrow —thus strengthening the roots — between grazings,” Cripe said.
Over time, this method will greatly improve the soil conditions of the farmland, and the livestock will provide the Campus Farm with another product to offer to the public, according to Cripe.
Just this month, the Campus Farm ordered its first batch of 160 broiler chicks. Once the chickens are fully-grown — around seven to eight weeks old — they will be processed by the Campus Farm team and sold to the public.
With the continued growth of the farm comes the need for more Christian Service (CSER) volunteers and full-time employees. Over the summer, two new full-time employees, an education and events coordinator and a livestock coordinator, were hired. This fall there are 20 CSER volunteers.
Also new to the Campus Farm this year is the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), or as the Campus Farm calls it, the Summer/Fall Harvest Shares.
According to Cripe, the Harvest Share is a membership to farm produce for a specified number of weeks for a lump sum. Members of the Harvest Share receive a share of the Campus Farm’s produce each week along with their pick of fresh herbs and flowers.
The reason for the Harvest Share was to diversify what was offered at the farm and raise awareness within the Liberty community, Cripe said. Currently, the Harvest Share is marketed to Liberty faculty and staff.
“We have really enjoyed bringing more people to the farm, and members seem to enjoy their time at the farm,” Cripe said. “We will continue to offer the Harvest Shares each year and, at some point, we hope to include other products such as eggs, honey and meat.”
During the first week of September, the Campus Farm added a timber frame pergola archway, which Cripe described as a space to “invoke community” at the farm.
“Our pergola was built out of cedar beams that were sustainably harvested and will last for years to come, as well as sourwood beams that were harvested from the property at the Campus Farm,” Cripe said. “The sourwood beams add a natural curve to the pergola and remind us of the way in which we are influenced by our surroundings.”
With a growing team of employees, additional livestock and building projects, the Campus Farm continues to grow and flourish with each passing season.
For students looking to get involved at the Campus Farm, open hours at the farm are Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. For more information about the Campus Farm, visit liberty.edu/campusrec/garden or email email@example.com.
BUNNER is a news reporter.
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