Salem State Botany Class visits Moraine Farm

Kim Wass, our Farm Educator, tells us about the visit: 

Yesterday, Biology Professor Larry Lewis brought his Botany Class to Moraine Farm so they could see what an organic farm is all about and to understand the CSA model of farming.  I met them in the parking lot as they arrived.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  Gus from Beverly Bootstraps, a local non-profit, was just picking up their weekly share of produce to be delivered to urban housing developments.  In his words, “…farmer’s market style, but where no money changes hands”.  Gus explained the relationship between Beverly Bootstraps and Moraine Farm; how it has grown over the years to become a valuable partnership and a friendship vital to the work they do and the support they provide to under-served families in the Beverly community.

The Salem State students were bright, interested and engaging young women who came to the farm armed with notebooks, questions and ready to learn.  In the 2 ½ hrs they spent on the farm, we discussed conventional vs. organic farming which included topics like crop rotation, pest and weed control as well as the broader implications of caring for the soil while maintaining economically viable and sustainable community and family farms.  While the conversation continued, new ideas emerged and notes were being taken, we walked most of the farm, beginning with the seedlings in the greenhouse and continuing through the fields.  Observing plants at their various stages of growth, from the snap peas ripe on the vines to the purple blossoms where eggplants will one day soon emerge to the cabbage growing under the protection of row covers.  Throughout the program there came the realization that a farm is the perfect classroom to weave botany, geology, history, land management, urban planning, landscape design, agriculture, sociology and philosophy, especially on a sunny breezy day in June!

potato beetle laying eggs

potato beetle laying eggs

The class inspected our potato plants, heard a brief history of this important crop and tried to guess it’s origin (Peru).  We found Colorado potato beetles, eggs and larvae in the potato field and got a bit of hands-on experience with organic pest control.

There was just enough time for a peek into the old Red Barn.  The students exclaimed that the barn space is begging for a big party, local musicians and square dancing.  I said I would make sure they were invited!

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