Horn Farm Center for Agricultural Education

Horn Farm Happenings – October 16, 2020

It’s Fall on the Farm! – Update from Field Manager, Andrew Horn

2020 Regenerative Farmer Trainees (left to right) Darby, Max, and Julia cleaning and sorting the last of this year’s pepper harvest

What a year it has been. With everything that has happened, I am thankful for how mild of a growing season it has actually been (in terms of weather). We definitely felt the heat during the hottest parts of the year and the late spring frost made things challenging early. However, because of consistent rains, our diverse cropping plans and our resilient, adaptable field management style we were able to maintain success throughout the growing season.

We are so grateful that our three Regenerative Farmer Trainee’s (Julia, Max, and Darby) stuck with us through the pandemic. As part of their hands-on learning experience, they were able to help us provide vegetables to our 25 CSA share holders every Tuesday since June. Their hard work and commitment to learning has impressed us all year. Now, with only two weeks of pickups left and the cooler weather settling in, we are shifting gears from cultivation and harvesting to clean up, cover crops, reflection and redesign.

This week, we decided to cut all our pepper plants, even though some were still green and they were still producing flowers. The remaining pepper harvest will keep in the cooler for the next two weeks. Clearing the bed allows us to hand seed & scratch in a winter rye cover crop. Winter rye grows slowly but it continues to photosynthesize throughout the winter. Come springtime, its growth will quicken and the rye will most likely be ready to produce seed in June. This cover crop is not for everyone as it takes up space in the spring and requires much different management than most. If you are interested in covering your gardens beds with winter rye, I recommend you test it out on a small bed you will not be planting into in the first half of the year. On the farm, we will “chop & drop” the rye right before it seeds and allow the above-ground biomass to decompose in place.

truck filled with sweet potatoes

Horn Farm’s sweet potato harvest

Fall carrot harvest before washing

We had an amazing sweet potato yield this year!  Now they are all are out of the ground and curing in the greenhouse or in bins ready to go out for the CSA.

We also started harvesting our fall crop of carrots, and although a good rain helps to soften the soil for digging, I have to point out how important it is to have compost (ideally made on site!) ready to apply back to the bed so we can replace what was lost! Each and every carrot carries with it a bit of soil (and nutrients and minerals) that, when removed and washed, can not be replaced. Sure, we could buy compost, but as we strive to be truly regenerative, we want to make sure we are limiting our external inputs. And, in my opinion, making your own compost is so much more rewarding!

If you want to learn more about how to do this yourself at home, consider attending our final 2020 Backyard Composting workshop on Tuesday, October 20th from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM.  I will be sharing the basics and tips on the best practices for how you can turn food and garden waste into a rich soil amendment. You can register online to attend. Hope to see you there!

As for the Horn Farm team, we are all stoked to travel off-site next Friday, October 23rd to visit our friends at Rising Locust Farm.  The trainees will have a chance to see a different farm with completely different systems. Some of you have enjoyed their meat, eggs and mushrooms all season long. We look forward to seeing their regenerative operation up close and personal, especially their outdoor shiitake mushroom grow!

One of the last tasks we have planned for the fall is planting garlic. We have chosen two beds which are already half prepped for us – because we had just dug our sweet potatoes! This is a great example of useful crop rotations. The well-forked bed is perfect for the garlic which appreciates the loose structured soil.

Last, but certainly not least, a big shout out to all the volunteers and supporters of the farm! Thanks for riding this wave with us and please, please, please, continue sharing your love with us as we make the transition into 2021.

Cheers! – Andrew Horn, Field Manager at the Horn Farm Center


Call for Volunteers – Join Us on Thursdays

bed preparation at the farm

Want to spend some time on the farm working and learning with Field Manager, Andrew Horn? Join us every Thursday until November 12th for special Volunteer Open House from 10am-6pm. We could use your help cleaning up for the fall and preparing for the winter months. We will spend some time getting to know each other, discussing what’s happening in the fields and on the farm, plus there will be plenty of opportunity to get your hands dirty!

Some of our end-of-season farm activities include:

  • Planting Garlic Beds
  • Clearing, Composting, Forking, Mulching BioIntensive Beds
  • Clearing, Composting, Forking, Mulching Annual Growing Beds
  • Mulching around Perennial Trees
  • Removing all Ground Pack and Irrigation Lines
  • Cleaning up and winterizing the Horn Farm greenhouses

Interested in joining us? Sign-up to volunteer for Volunteer Thursdays!


Horn Farm Center is Hiring!

Do you have a wealth of skills and a heart to change the world from the ground up? Consider joining the Horn Farm team! We are now hiring for TWO part-time positions:

  • An Executive Assistant who will help to support the mission of the organization by managing our administrative systems and keeping our team activities organized! 
  • A Community Education & Outreach Coordinator who will help to strengthen the role of the Horn Farm Center as a leader in the field of regenerative agriculture though education and outreach! 

YOU might be just the professional we are looking for! Click here to learn more about the latest employment opportunity at the Horn Farm Center.

 


Last Chance for Backyard Composting Workshop This Year!

Interested in learning how to compost at home? Join us on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 from 4:30-6:30PM for a comprehensive learning event focused on the essential components of turning food and yard waste into a healthy garden soil amendment. This will be the LAST Backyard Composting workshop we offer at the Horn Farm Center this year. Don’t miss it! Participants will leave with their own 12 foot roll of welded wire that can be set up and utilized immediately, a composting brochure that highlights details that were covered in the class, and hopefully an appreciation for the natural process called decomposition!


Upcoming Events:

Saturday, October 17: WildLands: Advanced Primitive Hunting Techniques (sold out!)
Tuesday October 20: Backyard Composting
Thursday, October 22: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
Thursday, October 29: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
Thursday, November 5: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
Saturday, November 7: The Living Landscape
Thursday, November 12: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
Sunday, December 6: 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 – October 9, 2020

Horn Farm Center is Hiring!

Do you have a wealth of skills and a heart to change the world from the ground up? Consider joining the Horn Farm team! We are now hiring for TWO part-time positions:

  • An Executive Assistant who will help to support the mission of the organization by managing our administrative systems and keeping our team activities organized! 
  • A Community Education & Outreach Coordinator who will help to strengthen the role of the Horn Farm Center as a leader in the field of regenerative agriculture though education and outreach! 

YOU might be just the professional we are looking for! Click here to learn more about the latest employment opportunity at the Horn Farm Center.

 


This Week on the Farm

This week we met with Hellam Township Environmental Advisory Council members to discuss stormwater management in Hellam Township. Led by Woodland Steward, Wilson Alvarez, we toured the water management systems at the Horn Farm, including our DCNR-funded riparian buffer that we planted earlier this spring. Riparian buffers help to slow, spread, and sink runoff on the farm, allowing rainwater to percolate into our soil before it reaches our waterways.

One of the reasons the Horn Farm riparian buffer is unique is because we planted thousands of multi-functional crops within the buffer that will eventually produce agriforestry products, such as fruit, nuts, and coppice wood, while continuing to capture and filter rainwater.

Healthy regenerative food and ecological restoration – what can be better than that?!

Another special technique that we use on the farm is doing absolutely nothing – an approach that Mark Sheppard, a pioneer in restoration agriculture, likes to call “S.T.U.N.” or “sheer total utter neglect.” While it sounds as though this might be the irresponsible thing to do, we have found that “S.T.U.N.” can be the exact opposite: the best thing we can do to help our natural ecology restore itself. Of course, we do this with intention and carefully intervene only when necessary.  As we stand back and watch nature do what she does best, we closely observe as these areas regenerate, sometimes supporting the process by removing prolific and dominant plant species.

All of these practices center around an unwavering trust in biology and natural systems. We believe that nature, which includes our humble human selves, has the ability to solve many of the problems we face. As we connect with our greatest teacher and ally, mother nature, we can truly be part of the change we wish to see in the world. And even though it may seem insignificant, we know that the small changes we are making to at the Horn Farm are making a hugely positive impact on the health of our community and our ecosystem, from the Kreutz Creek, to the Susquehanna River, and beyond!

Discover more regenerative agriculture best practices and learn how we are redefining agriculture at the Horn Farm Center! Visit hornfarmcenter.org for upcoming events and learning opportunities.


Two More Composting Workshops Scheduled for October

Interested in learning how to compost at home? We have added two more Backyard Composting workshops to our fall events schedule. Join us on Tuesday, October 13, 2020  or Tuesday, October 20, 2020 from 4:30-6:30PM for a comprehensive learning event focused on the essential components of turning food and yard waste into a healthy garden soil amendment. Participants will leave with their own 12 foot roll of welded wire that can be set up and utilized immediately, a composting brochure that highlights details that were covered in the class, and hopefully an appreciation for the natural process called decomposition!


Fall on the Farm – Call for Volunteers
farm internship 3

photo: Michelle Johnsen

Eager to get outside and get your hands dirty before the winter months set in? Join Field Manager Andrew Horn for some time on the farm! Every Thursday from 10am-6pm, Andrew will be a holding volunteer field day on the farm. We will spend some time getting to know each other, discussing what’s happening in the fields and on the farm, plus there will be opportunities to pitch in to help with the fall clean-up.

Some of our end-of-season farm activities include:

  • Harvesting Sweet Potatoes
  • Prepping Garlic Beds
  • Planting Garlic Beds
  • Clearing, Composting, Forking, Mulching BioIntensive Beds
  • Clearing, Composting, Forking, Mulching Annual Growing Beds
  • Mulching around Perennial Trees
  • Removing all Ground Pack and Irrigation Lines

Interested in joining us? Sign-up to volunteer for Volunteer Thursdays!


Upcoming Events:

Saturday, October 10: Wild Lands: Foraging, Hunting, Trapping (sold out!)
Saturday, October 10: Foraging Wild Roots for Coffee and More (currently full)
Tuesday, October 13: Backyard Composting
Thursday, October 15: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
Saturday, October 17: WildLands: Advanced Primitive Hunting Techniques (sold out!)
Tuesday October 20: Backyard Composting
Thursday, October 22: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
Thursday, October 29: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
Thursday, November 5: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
Saturday, November 7: The Living Landscape
Thursday, November 12: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
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 – October 2, 2020

The Amazing Pawpaw by David Dietz

"Asimina triloba3" by Scott Bauer, USDA - USDA ARS Image Number K7575-8. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asimina_triloba3.jpg#/media/File:Asimina_triloba3.jpgThe amazing pawpaw is staging a comeback in American consciousness. This long overlooked fruit has always been with us, growing in the understory of our natural lands, especially in the river valleys and surrounding hills. Scientists believe that it evolved as a food source for now extinct megafauna, such as the giant sloth and wooly mammoth. At one time, Americans were more familiar with this truly American fruit, which is native to the United States east of the Mississippi River, and currently ranges from northern Florida to southern Ontario in the east, as far west as Nebraska and Texas, and as far north as Michigan.

Native Americans cultivated pawpaws as a food source, as it was the largest edible fruit indigenous to the land that is now the United States. In fact, the Shawnee even had a pawpaw month in their calendar. Europeans’ first documented encounter with the pawpaw was from Hernando DeSoto’s Mississippi Expedition in 1841, where one of the chroniclers noted its cultivation by the native people. In addition to the already belligerent nature of the expedition, a far more significant negative effect of DeSoto’s journey was the introduction of European diseases to much of the continent’s native population, resulting in widespread death from diseases against which they had no immunity. Scholars estimate that anywhere from 50 to 100 million native people lived in the Americas prior to European contact, with an estimated 90% of them perishing in the ensuing years. It is not hard to imagine that in pre-contact America, many established civilizations with thriving agricultural plantings covered much of the landscape–a landscape which would eventually revert to wilderness after the devastating epidemics had run their course. While pawpaws and other edible plants now grow wild throughout our lands, it is probable that many are descended from intentionally planted and managed Native orchards and forests.

The pawpaw has been valued by many throughout our history. George Washington claimed it as his favorite fruit, and pawpaws were grown at Mount Vernon and Jefferson’s Monticello. Jefferson is said to have believed the pawpaw had potential for cultivation, and sent seeds to Europe as an example of a uniquely American plant. The widespread fruit even proved useful  in feeding  the famous expedition of Lewis and Clark. They subsisted on pawpaws for three days at one point in their epic journey.

Pawpaws, which ripen for a short few weeks in September in our Southcentral Pennsylvania region, are a delicate fruit, not suitable for shipping. Easily bruised, they are not ideal for large scale commercial production. But they have always been a valued source of food for foragers and people living off the land. Throughout our history, pawpaws were a welcome treat for all kinds of people. From enslaved people to Presidents, the pawpaw has provided a delicious, nutritious treat for many. About the size and shape of a mango, the pawpaw contains a custardy flesh that tastes somewhat like a cross between a banana and a mango, interspersed by brown, lima bean-sized seeds.

Nutritionally, pawpaws are loaded with nutrients–they are an excellent source of vitamin C, and are also high in magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese. They are also a good source of potassium, amino acids, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus, calcium, and zinc. These nutrients are found in pawpaws to a similar or greater degree than they are in bananas, apples, and oranges, all while containing a similar fiber content.

pawpaws!With a tendency to not be afflicted by pests or disease, pawpaws were a dependable source of food for people throughout history. Early American settlers relied on pawpaw groves for their fruit needs while they established their non-native orchards. The ubiquitous pawpaw provided names for places such as Paw Paw, Ohio, West Virginia, and at least a half a dozen other states. It even inspired folk melodies, such as Way down yonder in the Pawpaw Patch. During the Great Depression, the pawpaw was nicknamed “the poor man’s banana,” as it was an asset for foragers in tough times.

With the advent of supermarkets and the widespread availability of shipped produce after World War 2, the pawpaw receded from popular knowledge, as most Americans grew ever more distant from their once vibrant relationship with wild foods.

Meanwhile, several researchers made efforts to domesticate the pawpaw, and cultivars were developed, beginning around the turn of the century. Pawpaw breeding resurged in 1985, when R. Neal Peterson began a large-scale breeding program with the cooperation of the University of Maryland. Numerous named varieties have resulted from these efforts, and domestic production is slowly taking form. Pawpaw research is still a niche area of study, however, with little research funding available. Aside from private individuals, Kentucky State University is currently the only institution carrying on this work.

In the early 21st Century, with an explosion of farmers markets, and development of the slow food movement, pawpaws are now becoming more well-known again. Slow Food USA added the pawpaw to its Ark of Taste, further publicizing the nearly forgotten fruit. 

With the Horn Farm Center’s emphasis on native plants, it seemed only appropriate that the pawpaw would find a welcome place in our landscape. About a decade ago, local Slow Food USA member and founding member of the Horn Farm, Richard Bono approached the Center with a proposal to establish a pawpaw orchard at the Horn Farm. HFC agreed to it, and the orchard was planted. It takes about seven years from planting a pawpaw until it bears its first fruit. With this understanding, Bono has faithfully and patiently tended his orchard over the years, and his orchard is finally beginning to bear fruit. Dick and his wife Judy have shared their enthusiasm for pawpaws over the years by organizing hugely popular pawpaw dinners and festivals. This year, due to Covid-19 concerns, the Horn Farm opted not to have the festival on site, but the Bonos were able to still host it at the John Wright Restaurant in Wrightsville.

The humble pawpaw is once more claiming the respect that it is due. As knowledge of this delightful fruit spreads, our national palette is notably enriched. More and more, pawpaws are being rediscovered and planted by home gardeners, and if you ever get a chance to taste one, you’ll know why. 

“The Amazing Pawpaw” was written by Horn Farm Center Board Member, David Dietz

David Dietz has farmed in Hellam Township for most of his life. Growing up, he helped every summer on his parents’ truck patch farm, and he helped tend the roadside stand on the Lincoln Highway about a mile west of Wrightsville. Always interested in history, David earned a BSE in Social Studies from Millersville University in 1995, and spent several years teaching. Eventually, however, his love of the land drew him back to farming. In 2002, David started vending produce at York Central Market, where he continued until 2017. A founding member of the Horn Farm board, David helped start the Community Gardens and the Incubator Farm Project. Currently employed as the produce and dairy manager at Lemon Street Market in Lancaster, David is now interested more than ever in the challenges faced by local small-scale agriculture in a globalized commodity-driven economy. He is thrilled to see the Horn Farm Center leading with a vision for regenerative practices, learning from and working with nature. David is happily married to Waldorf teacher extraordinaire, Rochelle Dietz, and they have a delightful teenaged son, Gabriel.


Fall on the Farm – Call for Volunteers

farm internship 3

photo: Michelle Johnsen

Eager to get outside and get your hands dirty before the winter months set in? Join Field Manager Andrew Horn for some time on the farm! Every Thursday from 10am-6pm, Andrew will be a holding volunteer field day on the farm. We will spend some time getting to know each other, discussing what’s happening in the fields and on the farm, plus there will be opportunities to pitch in to help with the fall clean-up.

Some of our end-of-season farm activities include:

  • Harvesting Sweet Potatoes
  • Prepping Garlic Beds
  • Planting Garlic Beds
  • Clearing, Composting, Forking, Mulching BioIntensive Beds
  • Clearing, Composting, Forking, Mulching Annual Growing Beds
  • Mulching around Perennial Trees
  • Removing all Ground Pack and Irrigation Lines

Interested in joining us? Sign-up to volunteer for Volunteer Thursdays!


Horn Farm Center is Hiring!

Do you have flawless administrative skills and a heart to change the world from the ground up? Consider joining the Horn Farm team! We are now hiring a part-time Executive Assistant who will help to support the mission of the organization by managing our administrative systems and keeping our team activities organized! 

YOU might be just the professional we are looking for! Click here to learn more about the latest employment opportunity at the Horn Farm Center.


Upcoming Events:
Saturday, September 26: Wild Lands: Shelter Building and Finding Water
Saturday, October 3: Wild Lands: Art of Fire by Friction (sold out!)
Thursday, October 8: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
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
Thursday, October 15: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
Saturday, October 17: WildLands: Advanced Primitive Hunting Techniques (sold out!)
Tuesday October 20: Backyard Composting
Thursday, October 22: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
Thursday, October 29: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
Thursday, November 5: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
Saturday, November 7: The Living Landscape
Thursday, November 12: Fall on the Farm: Volunteer Thursdays
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.