January at the Horn Farm Center for Agricultural Education

A barn raising describes a collective action of a community, in which a barn for one of the members is built or rebuilt collectively by members of the community.

The process by which the Horn Farm Center for Agricultural Education was built seems to me to be a sort of barn raising. Almost 16 years ago, members of the community recognized the value to the community of preserving the Horn Farm as a working farm. Thousands of hours and buckets of blood, sweat, and tears later, the barn has been raised! The farmhouse, summer kitchen, squirrel tail oven, barns, greenhouse, irrigation system, and pond have been (or are in the final stages of having been) restored or built from the ground up. Community Education, Community Gardens, and Incubator Farm and Beekeeper Programs are well-established. People know our name and where to find us. Finances are solid, a full-time Executive Director was hired in June 2015. All of this was done by volunteers–people with a dream and a willingness to bring that dream to life!

Here it is 2016, and it is the time to do the work for which the Horn Farm was created: to connect our community to local food. Our work now is to build on the accomplishments of the past years and to continue to strengthen our local economy by supporting beginning farm businesses, and by offering educational classes and workshops that educate people about ways to grow and prepare fresh, local food.

On January 1, 2016, Jonathan Darby was promoted to Education Director at the Horn Farm Center for Agricultural Education. Because of this newly created position, educational offerings at the Horn Farm will expand in 2016. Everyone is invited to register for classes and workshops covering gardening, farming, foraging, and preparation of seasonal, local produce.

Four new Incubator Beekeepers were selected and will begin training on January 27. Earlier this week, the Horn Farm announced a new internship program. This program will be valuable and suitable for anyone interested in exploring a future in small-scale vegetable production as well as anyone interested in learning growing skills for the purpose of homesteading, gardening, and feeding themselves and their community.

In just the past 12 months, so much has changed. Committees have dissolved and been reborn as work groups; paid staff are doing work for which volunteers used to be fully responsible; long-time Board members have retired. What has happened to the Horn Farm? It’s not the same as it used to be. That’s true. The Horn Farm is not the same as it used to be–because dedicated volunteers accomplished a seemingly impossible goal. Now the Horn Farm is grown up and going out into the world to reconnect people with the soil, the earth, the ground that supports us. To build community resilience in uncertain times.

We define a community as a social unit that shares common values. In the Horn Farm strategic plan we defined our common values as:

Community connectedness/sense of place builds strength and achieves solutions.
Sustainable agriculture principles and practices protect valuable resources for future generations.
Food sovereignty and local control builds security.
Strong local farms build a strong economy; a strong economy supports local farms.
Education inspires change.
Good food is essential to community wellness.

It follows that anyone who shares these values is welcome in the Horn Farm community. In most ways, the Horn Farm remains the same. It’s just that ways to participate have changed as the Horn Farm has grown. If you feel you’ve lost your place in our Horn Farm community, or you’ve just learned about the work we are doing to help nature regenerate herself and want to be part of it, then please reach out anytime at executivedirector@ hornfarmcenter.org or 717.757.6441.

We can’t wait to see you at the farm!

Alyson Earl
Executive Director