Putting this almanac together has been a great experience for me, reflecting on what I’ve learned, the people who have helped along the way, and of course all the wonderful produce we’ve harvested. I’ve had the great fortune to work for two full seasons, and with some really amazing people. Chris Sullivan, Sarah Gamble, and Christine Roback have all been great to work alongside of, and Hillary Joy has been an amazing friend, and supervisor. This almanac is really a compilation of memories, an organized journal of several years conversations and shared labor with friends, mentors, and fellow farmers. I hope, in my absence it will continue the conversation.
I don’t pretend myself to be a farmer, or even a very wise gardener – but I have these few years at the Hamilton Community Farm and with the family garden growing up. My aim for this almanac is to increase the pace at which new farmer managers can gain skills and become comfortable in their role. My first season I remember being hesitant to do anything without asking for a second opinion, finding out the ‘right’ answer. Eventually, though, I came to see that there really is no ‘right’ answer, merely many opinions. So do research – look in this almanac – look on the web – get in touch with Nancy Grove – call Cornell cooperative extension – call your parents, but when you’re done, go ahead and do what you think should be done. In these pages we’ve outlined only what we’ve done in the past, I’m 100% confident there exists a better way to do everything in this book – so don’t stop here and don’t be afraid to change the almanac. Find something wrong? Find a new idea? Then grab a pen and write in the margins, type up a different protocol and staple it in – add vegetables – whatever you find we’ve missed or got wrong. Do write it in though: pass your knowledge on to the next farmers.
I want to include as well a thank you to the many people on campus who have brought this farm to life. From the very first proposal nothing would have been possible without the support and joint efforts of many parties: Countless students, many faculty, particularly David Gapp and Frank Sciacca, Alumni, particularly Graduates for a Greener Hamilton members, the amazing staff at physical plant, particularly Don Croft, the personally invested leaders of Bon Appetit such as Reuben Haag, and of course the phenomenal amount of administrative support, directed by President Stewart, but individually supported and pushed by the incredible Meredith Harper Bonham. To everyone who’s put themselves into this effort, ‘mixed their labor with the land’ I thank you, and to the current reader of this almanac I thank you for taking up this mantle.
Andrew Pape '11
My family has always had a garden, and I’ve been interested in gardening, sustainability and food issues increasingly since my senior year in High School. But staying on campus over the summer to be one of the HCCF managers was more demanding than my previous experiences, and required more knowledge than I had. Learning a lot from Andrew and Hillary Joy and Christine, who had been involved with the farm in the past, and making new discoveries with them about the best ways to run the farm, I gained a wealth of knowledge, almost without realizing it because it came about so naturally. In July, Andrew, Christine and I took a farm field trip to visit several other farms on college campuses around the northeast. Talking to my fellow college farmers, I began to realize how much I had learned, and what a precarious position this information was in; neither Andrew, Christine, or myself had plans of returning to the manager position the following summer, and so wouldn’t be right there along side the future managers. This problem of continuity of knowledge, how to pass on to future managers all that we had learned so it wouldn’t have to be relearned and rediscovered each year, continued to bother the three of us for the rest of the summer.
In August, Andrew suggested that we solve the problem by making a farm almanac, a kind of manual about organic farming in general, and running HCCF specifically. Here we would gather all of the information we had learned from books, from others, and from experience, as well as ideas for the future, and pass it on to the next farm managers, in hopes that they would continue to learn and add to the almanac as the years went on.
So that is what I see this almanac as doing; it is a link between us and the rest of farmers at Hamilton College. A reference and aid in running the farm and all that surrounds it. I hope you as the reader learns as much as I did writing it, and continue to amend it as the years go by, because I know there’s more to say.
Sarah Gamble '13