Horn Farm Happenings – March 31, 2023

The Story Behind the Tubes

If you’ve driven past the Horn Farm lately you may have noticed an unusual amount of plastic; the landscape is dotted with rows and clusters of tree tubes.

Although they are an eyesore, these temporary tubes are placeholders for a long-term vision: a diverse farm-scale ecosystem that benefits our wildlife and community. 

We’ve been working hard over the past 5 years to restore the Horn Farm back to optimal health. The tree tubes are just part of the big picture and help to protect young saplings from deer pressure.

In some areas, we transformed degraded farmland into multifunctional riparian buffers. In other areas, we are reclaiming overgrown woodlots that suffer from low levels of ecological diversity, are choked by vines and invasives, and are ultimately inaccessible to humans and wildlife.

This has been the focus of our latest project, just north of the farmhouse (thanks a very determined board member, Cindy Pizziketti, and funding from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation). By removing prolific non-native trees, shrubs, and vines, our staff and volunteers are making space for a new edible restoration landscape, inspired by a forest garden design.

What’s a forest garden you ask? A forest garden is a low-maintenance, sustainable, food production system designed to mimic woodland ecosystems. Using this same design concept, we are establishing an edible restoration landscape filled with native and edible perennials including: chestnut, hickory, American plum, apple, pear, pecan, serviceberry, black cherry, hackberry, and mulberry.

Sound interesting? We have a few ways to learn more and get involved:

Hope to see you at the farm!

Welcome Greenhouse Intern: Sylvia Mote

Sylvia is currently pursuing her B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy at Wilmington University. She has a diverse background and is most proud of her two years of AmeriCorps service and two seasons with the USDA Forest Service. Through these programs she performed work in conservation, disaster relief, small scale farming, food education, and more. Sylvia is excited about the Horn Farm Center’s mission because it blends her interests in the food system and ecology.

Sylvia will be helping our greenhouse operations run smoothly this spring. In addition to learning the ins and outs of organic seed starting and propagation, our interns will play an integral role in preparing for the Horn Farm Center’s 11th Annual Plant Sale on May 6th from 9am to 3pm.

One Month Until the Plant Sale!

The buzz in our greenhouse can’t be beat as we continue to grow and prepare for the 11th annual Horn Farm Plant Sale, taking place on May 6th from 9am to 3pm.

Check out this video link to see a timelapse of our busy bees working in the greenhouse!

We’re also seeking community members to assist throughout the day. Volunteers are invited to join us for a shift or help for the full day.

Mark your calendars for the 11th annual Plant Sale at the Horn Farm, supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Recipes Wanted: Community Cookbook

Horn Farm Center is a people-powered organization. As we approach our 20th Anniversary in 2024, we are looking for new ways to celebrate those who make the Horn Farm Center what it is today.

That’s why we’re compiling a cookbook – to highlight the creativity, stories, and flavor of our community.

Do you have a unique recipe to share? Click here to contribute to the Horn Farm Community Cookbook!

A Few Community Garden Plots Available

With spring just arriving and registrations closing this week, we have a small number of community garden plots still available for the 2023 growing season.

Each plot measures approximately 20′ x 20′ and is part of a garden “neighborhood” free of harmful herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers. Our gardeners take to the soil for a variety of reasons: quality family time, cost savings, eating fresh, canning and preserving, outdoor exercise, meeting other local gardeners, and deepening their relationship with the earth.

Click here to Register.

Celebrate Spring with Fungi

Starting Sunday, April 23rd, join us at the Horn Farm Center for a brand new series spanning the fascinating world of fungi. From human health to ecological revitalization, we’ll spend four unique sessions celebrating the incredible versatility, promise, and mystery of nature’s great recyclers.

Registrations are open for individual sessions or the full series. The topics we’ll cover across the series are:

  •  Session 1 (4/23/23): Introduction to Mycology
  •  Session 2 (4/29/23): Medicinal and Culinary Uses of Fungi
  •  Session 3 (5/13/23): Mushroom Cultivation
  •  Session 4 (5/27/23): Ecological and Alternative Uses for Fungi

Join us on Sunday, April 23rd at 10AM for the start of the Spring Fungi Series led by Niles Lavin and Ariane Leitzel from the Eastern Penn Mushroomers.

Click here to learn more and register.

Horn Farm Happenings – March 17, 2023

History Mystery at the Horn Farm

No, that’s not a lawnmower! This week, GeoView Inc. conducted ground penetrating radar on two small areas of farm fields, just north of the farmhouse. This geophysical investigation is part of an ongoing history mystery here at the Horn Farm!

It all began with a 1700s map of the Ruby property, now part of the Horn Farm. The map was hand-drawn by landowner and surveyor, Samuel Ruby and details the orchards, production fields, and boundary lines of the Ruby property. The buildings depicted on the map, including a log cabin, pre-date the Horn Farm’s farmhouse and barn buildings and are believed to be located where Route 30 stands today. The Horn Farm’s farmhouse was built many years later in 1844 (est.), north of where the original log house is depicted on this map.

The map also has a number of unidentifiable notations and marks, two of which are the subject of our history mystery. Local historian Joseph Brillhart and geologist Jeri Jones of Jones Geological Services are leading the efforts to uncover the truth behind these curious markings.

Joseph Brillhart is a long-time friend of the Horn Farm Center and descendant of the Ruby Family. After many years of genealogical and historical research on the Ruby family, Joseph Brillhart, with the help of Jeri Jones, has located what we believe to be the location of the mystery plots. Joe’s thorough research has provided a few educated guesses as to what we might find: a family cemetery and a small outbuilding that may or may not have been used as a whiskey still.

It will be a few weeks until we have the results of the ground radar. Although it is a long-shot, we are hoping to uncover new insights into the history of the Horn Farm. If the ground radar reports indicate disturbances in the soil, we will have more clues as to what history lies beneath our feet.

We’re often searching for the stories that the land can tell us, be they ecological or cultural. That’s why we’re looking forward to potential discoveries that might enrich our knowledge of the farm’s history: to grow our records, find ways to honor our past, and put our present work in proper perspective.

Click here to discover more Horn Farm History

Welcome Greenhouse Intern: Shannon Phifer

“Growing up in Lancaster County and spending my summers up in the Pine Creek Valley, I had a deep-rooted connection to the beauty and wonder of nature and the great outdoors from a very young age….

I am humbled to be able to continue on in my exploration and education as one of the interns at the Horn Farm Center. When I am not interning at the farm, I work as a farm educator at Heritage Creek Farm Camp and Education Center in Mt. Joy.  I look forward to an amazing growing season and all the skills I will be able to take with me.”

Our greenhouse is buzzing with activity this spring as we welcome two new Greenhouse Management Interns! In addition to learning the ins and outs of organic seed starting and propagation, our interns will play an integral role in preparing for the Horn Farm Center’s 11th Annual Plant Sale on May 6th from 9am to 3pm.

What’s Going on with the Farmhouse?

We are rebuilding! On the night of October 25th, lightning struck the Horn Farm Center’s historic farm house, destroying the 2nd and 3rd floors.  Since then, recovery and rebuilding efforts are underway.

To learn more about our plans, process, and timeline, please visit: rebuildhornfarm.com


Explore the topic of foraging as an act of reciprocity.

In this class, we will discuss the ecological impacts of foraging, the history of tending wild plants in North America, how to develop better relationships with the land and the plants that provide for us, techniques for harm reduction and positive-impact harvesting, as well as plant identification and subsistence uses of plants.

Join us for Regenerative Foraging with Calyx Liddick from the Northern Appalachia School on Saturday, April 8th from 10AM-1PM at the Horn Farm Center!

Click here to Register.

Next Week: March 22-25, 2023

Are you curious about Earth Care, or wondering how you can have an ecological impact this year? Do you want to connect more deeply with Nature and care for the land around you, but aren’t sure where to start?

For 4 days, from March 22 – 25th, LadyBug EarthCare is bringing together dozens of training sessions, interviews and presentations from activists, experts and naturalists, who have found ways to increase their ecological impact through connection with Nature. You’ll hear about everything from Placemaking, Pollinator Gardening and Woodland Stewardship to Earth-Focused Professions, and more.

Horn Farm Center Executive Director, Alexis Campbell will be featured on Saturday, March 25th at 5PM to share Grounding Education with Action at the Horn Farm. You will also hear from some amazing experts like William Padilla-Brown, Dale Hendricks, and Calyx Liddick.

Each presentation is FREE and will be available for 24-hours, but you can also get lifetime access (along with some other amazing bonuses) by grabbing the ALL-ACCESS PASS HERE.

Enjoy the 2023 Mid-Atlantic Earth Care Summit!

Learn Bio-Intensive Gardening Methods!

Start transforming your garden for the health of soil, food, ourselves, and the planet!

Wherever you are in your gardening journey, bio-intensive methods offer great additions to the home-gardening toolbox. These simple techniques maximize productivity on small plots using minimal equipment and existing soil conditions. With a special focus on seed starting and bed prepping, we’ll equip you with timely ideas for spring management as the growing season approaches.

Join our Farm Manager Andrew at the Horn Farm Center on Sunday, March 26th from 10am to 2pm to tour some of the insights of this innovative and accessible practice.

Click here to Register!

Horn Farm Happenings – March 3, 2023

Downstream: The Bigger Picture Behind the Buffer

“Nearly half of the freshwater flow into the Chesapeake comes from the Susquehanna River, making it the largest water contributor to the bay. This means that Pennsylvanians, not one of us in viewing distance of the Bay, have a surprisingly crucial role to play in addressing the degradation of downstream ecologies in the Chesapeake.”

Part 2 of “For the Whole Streamour blog feature spotlighting the Horn Farm Center’s riparian buffersis live! In “Downstream, we illustrate how our efforts to protect land and water extend well beyond the boundaries of the Center, and how ecology teaches us to pay attention to impacts that will outdistance and outlive us.

“For the Whole Stream” is the first installment of a new series called the Horn Farm Ecosystem. Through monthly articles, we’ll walk the land in writing: visiting the forests, regenerative fields, and ecological action sites of the Horn Farm Center to explain our stewardship work, uplift nature, and inspire love for the land. Visit our February 17th, 2023 newsletter for more information about this blog series.

Click here to read the blog: Downstream

Volunteers Wanted: Spring Tree Plantings

Since 2018, we’ve planted over 15,000 trees thanks to our dedicated volunteers. This year, we are planting the final 2 acres of multifunctional riparian buffers at the Horn Farm – and we need your help! Join us for a few volunteer workdays this spring:

Planting days:

Tending/upkeep days:

Volunteers will help us plant and stake tree saplings, manage non-natives, and install protective tree tubes to help our saplings succeed. See you at the farm!

Click here to learn more and sign up to volunteer!

Training for the Future

On February 13th, we kicked-off the 2023 Land Steward & Ecological Gardener Training Programs! We welcomed 21 new students, who are eager to become practitioners of ecological land care.

Over the past 3 weeks, training program instructors Wilson Alvarez, Elyse Jurgen, and Andrew Horn laid the groundwork for understanding the natural history, ecology, and ongoing environmental challenges of our bio-region. Participants are exploring foundational knowledge in both the values and practices that generate impactful restorative earth work.

Their learning experience will continue as they begin hands-on training over the next 13 weeks. We are absolutely honored to guide our new students in their journeys to earth care. And, we are thrilled to be teaching the next generation of land stewards here in York County!

Claim Your Share: Horn Farm CSA

From June to October, CSA members receive a weekly box of seasonal, organically-grown produce. Fill your plate with local flavor this year! Become a member of the Horn Farm CSA to support local, regenerative farmers and the Horn Farm Center’s land-healing mission.

To help make our CSA more accessible, we are offering payment plans this year. Register by March 15th to pay in installments.

Click here to Register.


Learn the Miyawaki Method!

A forest from scratch? Learn this unique method for bringing a new forest to life!

In this class, we’ll tour Horn Farm’s Miyawaki test plots to showcase the ecological underpinnings of the Miyawaki method, its benefits to the ecosystem, and then demonstrate the process for building your own Miyawaki mini-forest.

Each participant will leave with their own Miyawaki starter kit including seven unique, native tree seedlings and the knowledge to bring rewilding home or wherever the land can benefit from this innovative planting technique.

Join us on Sunday, March 19th from 9:00am-1:00pm for Miyawaki 101, led by Woodland Steward, Wilson Alvarez at the Horn Farm Center.

Click here for more information and to register.