Celebrating a successful season

Posted 12/29/21

LOCH SHELDRAKE, NY — Some beds are covered with a crop of field peas. Others lie under a blanket of black plastic, protected from erosion.

Hope Farm, the three-acre organic farm on SUNY …

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Celebrating a successful season

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LOCH SHELDRAKE, NY — Some beds are covered with a crop of field peas. Others lie under a blanket of black plastic, protected from erosion.

Hope Farm, the three-acre organic farm on SUNY Sullivan’s campus, is ready for winter.

The gardens deserve their rest. The 2021 season, says college spokesman Darren O’Sullivan, was successful and productive; the farm produced over 12,000 pounds of organic produce, which is used in New Hope Community’s residences and by the college, and is donated to local emergency food resource providers.

The farm, housed on the college’s campus, allows students and New Hope residents to learn sustainable farming techniques.

Of the more than 12,000 pounds of organic food grown in 2021, farm manager Megan Greene said the majority of the produce was used in New Hope Community’s 42 supported homes, while more than 2,000 pounds was donated to local food pantries, including the SUNY Sullivan Food Pantry, the Federation for the Homeless, St. Peter’s Food Pantry and Sullivan County Meals on Wheels.

“Our top two crops in terms of pounds harvested were potatoes at 1,392 pounds and tomatoes at 1,000 pounds,” said Greene. “Our first ginger crop was a success, and we plan to grow even more next year.”

In addition, Greene reported that the farm hosted a six-week nutrition class series in collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County, attended by New Hope Community’s Without Walls day program. The farm hosted students from the Liberty Partnership Program (LPP) for two weeks and Sullivan County BOCES for six weeks of educational programming this season.

“Hope Farm is such an asset to our campus and the community,” said Kathryn Scullion, SUNY Sullivan instructional assistant and community garden coordinator. “I know that the LPP students who helped on the farm this summer really embraced the work and loved the fruits and veggies that they ate in the field, or prepared for lunch, or took home to their families. I am grateful for the donations the farm has made to our campus food pantry, and the students we serve have been so excited to have farm-fresh vegetables.”

While production on the farm is done for the season, Greene said Hope Farm’s team is busy working in New Hope Community’s 3000-square-foot heated greenhouse.

“We produce microgreens, lettuces, and herbs through the winter for distribution to New Hope Community homes and run horticultural activities with New Hope’s Without Walls and Living Arts Center Day Programs,” said Greene. “We have some kale and salad mix growing in the unheated hoop house at the College, which we will harvest likely in February or March. After that we plan to plant some peas to harvest in spring, followed by cucumbers for an early summer harvest in the hoop house.”

In addition to continued programming with Sullivan BOCES and the Liberty Partnership Program next year, Greene said she hopes to expand the farm’s partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension in the county, to offer more nutrition and cooking classes and to purchase a commercial dehydrator to expand the farm’s herb production to produce teas for distribution to New Hope homes and to eventually sell at the farm’s annual plant sale and other community events.

“We’ve already experimented with drying some ginger and lemongrass, and will be working with Without Walls groups to bag, label, and taste-test the tea through the winter and spring,” said Greene, who said another major goal next season is to move towards no-till on Hope Farm to preserve the soil health and structure. “We already practice ‘low-till’ agriculture, meaning we only till each bed one or two times in the growing season. However, we’d like to work towards a system that allows us to avoid tillage all together.”

For more information about Hope Farm and New Hope Community, please visit https://www.newhopecommunity.org.

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