Upcoming Productions

Albion College Student Farm

The mission of the Albion College Student Farm Association is to cultivate a student-organized, all-natural, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing produce garden for the benefit of students and faculty from all academic disciplines and community members of all ages.

Using a combination of fields, a hoop house, and Three Sisters plots, the student farm grows a variety of peppers, tomatoes, green beens, onions, squash, corn, beets, and herbs at its location in the Whitehouse Nature Center

The goals of the student farm include:

  • Promote gardening as an uplifting, healthful, environmentally-friendly activity
  • Experiment with organic gardening practices such as composting and planting heirloom seeds
  • Raise awareness about the role of a local diet in reducing carbon footprint by offering our produce to Dining Services, student apartments, and annexes
  • Help ensure equal access to nutritious food in the Albion community by donating produce to local charities
  • Encourage Albion residents, especially youth, to learn about and appreciate organic gardening, become more connected with their local food system, and grow a deeper sense of community.

A group of five students started the farm during Albion’s Year of Sustainability in 2010.

Student Workers

The farm is a three way collaboration among Albion College's Center for Sustainability and the Environment, the Whitehouse Nature Center, and an independent student organization.

The work in the student farm is all volunteer during the school year. In the summer, the Center for Sustainability employs two interns to work half time at the farm, with the Nature Center employing them the other half of their time. 

Gardens and Hoop House

The The 1,440-square-foot growhouse is a "greenhouse on wheels." The hoop house was made possible by a generous gift from the Baird family in honor of Jessica Baird’s, ’11, graduation. Jessie was one of the founding members of the student organization. The Student Senate has also supported the student organization generously over the years.

In the hoop house, student farmers grow tomatoes and a variety of peppers. Outside the hoop house, students manage Three Sisters plots (corn, beans, and squash), as well as:

  • Winter squash
  • Watermelons
  • Various herbs, including basil, parsley, oregano, mints
  • Onions 
  • Summer squash
  • Green beans

How To Help

You can get involved with Albion's student farm by volunteering with the Student Farm Association, or apply to work at the student farm during the summer. Contact CSE Director Tim Lincoln for details. 

The student farm needs help with:

  • Weeding
  • Composting
  • Planting and cultivating crops

 

Other Trip Details

An experiment aimed at understanding the growth and carbon sequestration under elevated CO2 is explained at Oak Ridge National Lab

On the trip, we also explored other issues and visited other relevant places. At the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Labs, we visited the environmental section, where experiments ranging from ways to lessen fish kills from hydroelectric turbines to studies of the potential effects of elevated global CO2 on forest growth were explained.

Early morning mists shroud Fontana Dam, built to provide power to war industries, including Oak Ridge, in the 1940's

On another day we visited the TVA headquarters and the nearby Norris Dam, first of many hydroelectric projects which forever altered both the economy and the riparian ecology of the region.

 Students stroll amid the gardens of Eco-village residents

We ended the trip with a quick visit to Berea College's Eco-village. This complex of apartments uses 75% less water and energy than conventional housing. The progressive environmental and social innovations shown by a sister College provided inspirational and up end to our trip.

 

Tiles created by children in the complex adorn the base of a demonstration straw bale pavilion in the complex

Other Aspects

Wild (feral) ponies visit our campsite on Assateaque Island

On the trip we also visited Assateaque Island and Ocean city Maryland, to contrast the quiet waters of the bay with the open coast of the barrier islands, and the natural Assateaque seashore with developed Ocean City. We concluded the trip in Washington DC, where students had a day to explore the City on their own.

Kapil, John and Wes prepare dinner on Assateaque IslandChemistry Professor Cliff Harris poses with models in one of many shops along the Ocean City BoardwalkErica and Lisa discuss global change policy with Senator Debbie Stabenow's environmental aideStudents relax in the National Building Museum after visiting the display on green building

Natural Florida

reflected_heron

Everglades habitats are dominated by sawgrass prairies, the river of grass, but also include cypress domes, hardwood hammocks, sloughs and coastal mangroves. Functioning naturally, the vast reaches of sawgrass, coupled with un-confined Lake Okeechobee stored seasonal rainfall for much of the dry winter season, and allowed a vast array of wetland- dependant species to flourish. Today, with dikes, canals and roadways that act as dams, hydroperiods are drastically altered, nutrient levels are higher, and the remaining wetlands are to a large extend dependant on human-controlled flows. We can still see the habitats and most of the species, but can only read about and imagine the riotous abundance of birds and other animals that inhabited the natural Everglades.

Without question the Everglades restoration efforts are having a positive impact. We were impressed by the magnitude (and expense) of these efforts. But there is something inelegant about relying on pumps, wells and flooded rock quarries to store water that one was stored by stately flow through the Everglades. If stored water can be sent to the Everglades, it can also be sent to the urban coast. In the face of growing population and inevitable drought years, will people maintain the political will to provide for the natural areas when a literal flip of a switch can divert water to needy humans?

Our last day was spent snorkeling on a reef in the Keys.  For many, this was a highlight.  Even here, change is evident, as much of the coral is bleachedOur last day was spent snorkeling on a reef in the Keys.  For many, this was a highlight.  Even here, change is evident, as much of the coral is bleached

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alumna Hillary Burgess is presently working on an Everglades restoration project.  She led us on a "swamp slough' to a cypress dome.  Left, Hillary shows her mentor, Biologist Dan Skean some orchids in bloom.  Right, John poses with ferns in the dome

Alumna Hillary Burgess is presently working on an Everglades restoration project.  She led us on a "swamp slough' to a cypress dome.  Left, Hillary shows her mentor, Biologist Dan Skean some orchids in bloom.  Right, John poses with ferns in the domeOther creatures encountered included a water moccasin and alligatorsOther creatures encountered included a water moccasin and alligators

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a bird lover, the Everglades remain a paradise.  Clockwise from upper left, Brown Pelican, Anhinga, Cormorant, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, White IbisFor a bird lover, the Everglades remain a paradise.  Clockwise from upper left, Brown Pelican, Anhinga, Cormorant, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, White IbisFor a bird lover, the Everglades remain a paradise.  Clockwise from upper left, Brown Pelican, Anhinga, Cormorant, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, White IbisFor a bird lover, the Everglades remain a paradise.  Clockwise from upper left, Brown Pelican, Anhinga, Cormorant, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, White IbisFor a bird lover, the Everglades remain a paradise.  Clockwise from upper left, Brown Pelican, Anhinga, Cormorant, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, White IbisFor a bird lover, the Everglades remain a paradise.  Clockwise from upper left, Brown Pelican, Anhinga, Cormorant, Little Blue Heron, Great Egret, White Ibis

More Articles ...