Happenings

Horn Farm Happenings – September 25, 2020

It goes without saying that this year has been a time of global reckoning and transition. We all are feeling the gravity of our current paradigm as many of us continue to navigate the unknown and anticipate what comes next. Like many of the challenges we face on the farm, we can look to the land to teach us.

What role does a disruption, or disturbance, play in an ecosystem? 

Wilson explains

Woodland Steward, Wilson Alvarez

In ecology, a disturbance is a temporary occurrence that causes a pronounced change. Disturbances often act quickly and with great effect, altering the physical structure or arrangement of biotic and abiotic elements in an ecosystem. For example, we can see many major ecological disruptions playing out in real time today.  Fires, flooding, storms, and insect outbreaks radically alter our landscapes and the ways they function. Surely we can also consider the global pandemic a major disturbance, one that has completely altered our socio-economic, political, and environmental systems. On a smaller scale, at the Horn Farm, we have come to appreciate both the impact and opportunity that disturbance can bring to both our natural and human systems. 

Small disturbances occur in our landscapes constantly. A felled tree, for instance, opens up the forest canopy and allows light to reach the understory in a new way. And while we might focus on the why and how of a tree coming down, the result of this action is a change in the system that provides an opportunity for new flora to thrive. Similarly, animals are some of nature’s most favored disruptors; as they move through the landscape they deposit seeds and nutrients while others reshape wild spaces by scratching, digging, and building habitats. These disruptions are part of an ongoing cycle of natural change. Healthy ecosystems require this movement of energy to flourish and self-regenerate. 

Monarch butterfly emerging from chrysalis on September 25, 2020 at the Horn Farm.

 

The land stewards at the Horn Farm have been researching and experimenting with how micro-disturbances, and even more so, intentional disruption, can improve the health of our farm ecosystem. Through intense observation and ecological literacy, Woodlands Steward, Wilson Alvarez has developed a methodology of land stewardship that he calls a “bottom-up” approach.  Based on biomimicry, we seek to imitate the disturbances and scale of impact that animals once had on the landscape. By studying and mimicking the behavior of animals, we can learn how and when to make small changes to ecosystems that will help to restore its natural functions. Through intentional disturbance, the Horn Farm ecosystems are being restored. 

Beyond our farmscape, we are coming to understand that the organization itself is going through a period of deep transformation. Through much reflection, hard work and growing pains, the organization has found new direction and leadership this year. Additionally, we are saying goodbye to two long-term staff members, Jon Darby and Pamela Moore. 

Both Jon and Pam have been a core to the success of the Horn Farm Center’s educational programs as well as its evolution towards a more ecologically-focused farmscape. Their impact at the Horn Farm is invaluable and we are thankful for the energy and creative input they have brought to the organization. Just as we value their hard-earned contributions, we are embracing the disruption and new opportunity that their departure will bring. As we continue to prepare for a new season at the Horn Farm, we will continue to stay connected, as Pam and Jon are forever part of our extended farm community.

To learn more about their journeys and to honor the work they accomplished here at the Horn Farm, keep reading below!


Jon Darby’s Horn Farm Story

Jonathan Darby - Education Director

Jonathan Darby – Education Director. Photo: Michelle Johnsen

It’s hard to imagine the Horn Farm Center without Jon Darby. For many in our community, the farm is synonymous with his name. Jon first became involved at the Horn Farm Center as a volunteer in 2007. Shortly after, he joined the Modern Homestead Farm Committee, which was tasked with organizing the on-site activities at the farm such as the community gardens and the Incubator Farm Program. In 2010, as a participant in the Incubator Farm Program, Jon started his own farming operation, Sterling Farm. The following year, he was hired as the Horn Farm Center’s first part-time Farm Manager. In 2016, Jon transitioned to a full-time position as the Education Director where he began to oversee all educational activities at the farm. 

During his tenure at the farm, Jon developed a robust schedule of educational programming that has impacted thousands of visitors and program attendees, helping to make the Horn Farm Center a destination for experiential, farm-based learning. As the manager of the CSA operation and the Farmer Training Program, Jon has helped to cultivate a healthier, more resilient community through his hard work, dedication, and inspirational teaching methods. 

Jon’s legacy at the Horn Farm has had a lasting impact: many of his students, having gone through the Farmer Training Program, have gone on to become farmers or work in the field of regenerative agriculture in some way. When asked what he loves most about the Horn Farm, Jon replied, “What I love the most about this place is the focus: reconnecting people to lost skills and empowering them to grow their own food. We are helping to make our communities more resilient.” 

After 12 years serving the organization, Jon is retiring from his current role at the farm but he looks forward to serving the Horn Farm other ways. He also plans to continue farming and teaching from his homestead, where he will be spending more time with his family. Jon’s official last day at the Horn Farm is October 10th. However, we are sure you will see him around! 


Pamela Moore’s Horn Farm Story

HFC Executive Assistant, Pamela Moore. Photo: Michelle Johnsen

Pam’s role at the farm is a little less visible, but equally important to the success of the organization. Pam has served as the Executive Assistant since July of 2018. As a trained instructional designer and systems administrator, Pam has brought her keen attention to detail and ability to organize, document and manage systems to the Horn Farm with great impact. She also helps to organize our big events, such as the annual Plant Sale and the Horn Farm Center Pawpaw Festival. Pam has helped to streamline the farm’s administrative operations and is leaving behind a fine-tuned machine. We have a few months to wish her well in her new full-time endeavor, which she will begin in January 2021.

We are so grateful for the contributions that Jon and Pam have made to the ecosystem that is the Horn Farm Center. Their absence will certainly create a disturbance in the fabric of the organization, and we will honor their legacy by using that shift as a catalyst for the growth and evolution of the farm. 

Here are some opportunities to visit in the next few weeks (link for upcoming events calendar). We look forward to seeing you on the farm. 


Upcoming Events:
Saturday, September 26: Wild Lands: Shelter Building and Finding Water
Tuesday, September 29: Tuesday Afternoon on the Farm (free! pre-registration requested)
Saturday, October 3: Wild Lands: Art of Fire by Friction (sold out!)
Saturday, October 10: Wild Lands: Foraging, Hunting, Trapping (sold out!)
Saturday, October 10: Foraging Wild Roots for Coffee and More
Tuesday, October 13: Backyard Composting
Saturday, October 17: WildLands: Advanced Primitive Hunting Techniques (sold out!)
Tuesday October 20: Backyard Composting
Saturday, November 7: The Living Landscape
Saturday, December 5: The Living Landscape

See you at the farm!

York County has moved into the green phase for dealing with COVID-19, so we are resuming some on farm classes with modifications. Classes will be held outside and are limited to 10 participants per class. If more than one class occurs on the same day, start times will be staggered to reduce the number of individuals arriving at the same time. Multiple hand sanitizer stations are available. We will adjust as needed as time passes and things change. Participants are required to bring a mask and wear when proper physical distancing cannot be maintained. Except for family members physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained.

Horn Farm Happenings – September 18, 2020

From the Executive Director

These first few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity as I become more acquainted with the farm and the people that care deeply about it. Although I still have a great deal to learn about the organization, I can say with certainty that the Horn Farm Center is a beacon of hope, shining a light on the path towards resilience. In the face of our current reality, which is challenging to say the least, the work that we do at the Horn Farm Center is inspiring. 

What strikes me the most is a palpable love for the land, the principle upon which the organization was founded and is still rooted today. As I have learned, the Horn Farm was saved by a community of passionate people, maybe you are one of them, who understood that our natural spaces and cultural practices of stewarding and cultivating the land are sacred and need to be preserved. 20 years later that same sense of responsibility for the wellbeing of our community and natural environment has endured. In fact, it has grown exponentially as we have cultivated a deeper connection with this place. 

What we have learned has led us to where we are now: we are deeply focused on stewarding the land with an understanding that we are inextricably linked to its wellbeing. Over time, and under our previous Director’s leadership, not only has our perception of the farm changed, but we have also begun to rethink our relationship with it. As we learn to observe and listen to the language of the land, we are starting to see ourselves in a different light: more than being caretakers of the farm, we are but one part of a larger system that has its own wisdom to offer.

This is the key to true regenerative practices. By first understanding our natural systems, we can better understand our role, and see where and when it is appropriate to intervene. We do so with protracted observation, favoring the wellbeing of the whole over any predetermined outcomes. 

The Horn Farm Center is a conservation success story. The greater York community, founders of the Horn Farm Center and subsequent stewards of the organization had the foresight and dedication to protect the farm into perpetuity. And just as we have so much to give to the land, we are learning that it has wisdom and knowledge to give back to us. That is why what started as a tribute to York County’s rich agricultural history is now  becoming a functioning and thriving farm ecosystem. Through innovation, hard work, and a balance of give and take, we are redefining what we know to be the best practices in farming.

At the Horn Farm Center, we are redefining agriculture. And, we are eager to share what we learn along the way.

As an educational center we invite you to join us on our journey of discovery and ask that you contribute as well. Similar to the biodiversity on the farm, the Horn Farm Center community is also diverse, with individuals and families engaging in a variety of ways. Whether you are a community gardener, CSA member, class participant, or simply a friend of farm, you too are part of the Horn Farm ecosystem and it doesn’t function without you. Each of you bring your own knowledge and energy to the organization, helping us grow.

So let’s grow together! As we prepare for the end of our farming season, we are looking forward to new opportunities in the months and years to come. Feel free to stop in, join us for a class or shoot us an email. We want to hear from you and look forward to the energy and innovation that you bring to the Horn Farm ecosystem. 


Upcoming Events:
Saturday, September 19: Wild Lands: Art of Seeing and Science of Observation (sold out!)
Tuesday, September 22: Tuesday Afternoon on the Farm (free! pre-registration requested)
Saturday, September 26: Wild Lands: Shelter Building and Finding Water
Tuesday, September 29: Tuesday Afternoon on the Farm (free! pre-registration requested)
Saturday, October 3: Wild Lands: Art of Fire by Friction (sold out!)
Saturday, October 10: Wild Lands: Foraging, Hunting, Trapping (sold out!)
Saturday, October 10: Foraging Wild Roots for Coffee and More
Tuesday, October 13: Backyard Composting
Saturday, October 17: WildLands: Advanced Primitive Hunting Techniques (sold out!)
Tuesday October 20: Backyard Composting
Saturday, November 7: The Living Landscape
Saturday, December 5: The Living Landscape

See you at the farm!

York County has moved into the green phase for dealing with COVID-19, so we are resuming some on farm classes with modifications. Classes will be held outside and are limited to 10 participants per class. If more than one class occurs on the same day, start times will be staggered to reduce the number of individuals arriving at the same time. Multiple hand sanitizer stations are available. We will adjust as needed as time passes and things change. Participants are required to bring a mask and wear when proper physical distancing cannot be maintained. Except for family members physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained.

Horn Farm Happenings – September 11, 2020

As the summer winds down, we are thankful that we are able to continue offering educational programs at the Horn Farm Center. This past weekend we hosted two limited-size classes: The Living Landscape and Backyard Composting.

Horn Farm Center Woodland Steward, Wilson Alvarez exploring the Living Landscape with class participants

Held on the first Saturday of each month, the Living Landscape is a chance to explore Horn Farm Center’s diverse ecosystems. During last Saturday’s Living Landscape program, Woodlands Steward, Wilson Alvarez led a small group on an ecological adventure through the Horn Farm Center’s meadows and woodlands, taking time to discuss everything from tree identification to primitive skills.

We are offering a number of other opportunities this fall to reconnect with our natural systems on the farm. Join us for our upcoming Wild Lands Workshop Series, which includes five full-day, land-based learning experiences. Each workshop can be taken individually or as a series and focuses on reading the landscape and developing essential survival skills.


Field Manager, Andrew Horn sharing the basics of composting at last week’s Backyard Composting workshop

We are also very excited about our new Backyard Composting workshop, which we are offering in partnership with the York County Solid Waste Authority. Led by Field Manager, Andrew Horn, the workshop focuses on the basics of composting, providing the practical skills needed to begin producing compost at home. This hands-on workshop includes start-up supplies and plenty of time to ask as many questions as necessary. In addition to our previously scheduled workshop on Saturday, September 12, two more Backyard Composting workshops are now available on Tuesday evenings. Join us for Backyard Composting at the Horn Farm Center!


Upcoming Events:
Saturday, September 12: Backyard Composting
Saturday, September 12: Foraging for Wild Teas & Drinks
Tuesday, September 15: Tuesday Afternoon on the Farm (free! pre-registration requested)
Saturday, September 19: Wild Lands: Art of Seeing and Science of Observation (sold out!)
Tuesday, September 22: Tuesday Afternoon on the Farm (free! pre-registration requested)
Saturday, September 26: Wild Lands: Shelter Building and Finding Water
Tuesday, September 29: Tuesday Afternoon on the Farm (free! pre-registration requested)
Saturday, October 3: Wild Lands: Art of Fire by Friction
Saturday, October 10: Wild Lands: Foraging, Hunting, Trapping
Saturday, October 10: Foraging Wild Roots for Coffee and More
Tuesday, October 13: Backyard Composting
Saturday, October 17: WildLands: Advanced Primitive Hunting Techniques
Tuesday October 19: Backyard Composting
Saturday, November 7: The Living Landscape
Saturday, December 5: The Living Landscape

See you at the farm!

York County has moved into the green phase for dealing with COVID-19, so we are resuming some on farm classes with modifications. Classes will be held outside and are limited to 10 participants per class. If more than one class occurs on the same day, start times will be staggered to reduce the number of individuals arriving at the same time. Multiple hand sanitizer stations are available. We will adjust as needed as time passes and things change. Participants are required to bring a mask and wear when proper physical distancing cannot be maintained. Except for family members physical distancing of 6 feet must be maintained.