If the long, dry summer had a negative influence on the agroecology fields, one would hardly know it from the plentiful September harvest. We easily provided produce for weekly sales on the Goshen College campus as well as to various public programs.
Many students and faculty came to buy our diverse, fresh vegetables on Friday afternoons. Some of the most popular items were broccoli, ground cherries, onions, peppers, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. Community members who came to Merry Lea to participate in programs such as Wilderness First Aid, the Hope Conference, and the Photography Workshop, also enjoyed meals cooked with produce from our farm. There was still fresh produce to contribute to the Central Noble Food Pantry in Albion, where individuals and families who are struggling financially can receive donations.
A new residential program began at Merry Lea this fall, the Sustainability Semester in Residence (SSR). Each week we provide the students with fresh vegetables to supplement their communal meals. They are learning to appreciate and cook with local and sustainable foods, some of which may be unfamiliar to them. In the winter months when nothing is left in the gardens they can still enjoy preserved items (frozen broccoli, corn and cauliflower; canned tomatoes) and stored items (potatoes and onions).
The end of September also marked the career end of our 14 Cornish-cross broiler chickens. At just 10 weeks of age they had reached their optimal weight (6-9 lbs dressed). Expertise was provided by Paul Steury and Aaron Goldstein, master butcherers, who demonstrated the proper way to kill, skin, and clean a chicken. With the help of other staff and volunteers, the whole process was completed in just under four hours. The high demand for our chickens means there will be more to come in the spring!
– Posted by David Stoesz, Agroecology Intern