Katelin Crabtree ’22, Loretta Hauslauer ’19, Braydon Hobart ’21 and Avery Wickersham ’19, MAT’20 interned at HWS Fribolin Farm this summer. They established and tended to one acre of garden space; coordinated farm outreach programming; supported Geneva 2020 and HWS Office of Sustainability and Sustainable Living and Learning Community initiatives; worked on partner farms; and studied beekeeping firsthand with instruction by farm staff and beekeeper Sarah Meyer, all while expanding their knowledge of gardening, pollination and the issues that impact agriculture in this region.
Since the farm was acquired in 2014, faculty and staff have integrated the property into the curriculum to enrich the student and instructional experience. With assistance and leadership from farm interns, Meyer oversees the property and programming, bringing opportunities to campus and Geneva, such as children’s and adult workshops focused on garden development and culinary exploration, service opportunities, and the ways consumers interact with and bridge experiences between food, farmers and food processing.
“Over the past five years, the potential in the farm and our students learning has been demonstrated through programming, HWS courses and labs, and co-curricular and public events. More than 25 professors and staff have included the farm in their coursework and programs, with more than 25 students, like Loretta, Kate, Braydon, and Avery, gaining experience through internships, independent and research studies, and service opportunities. Over 50 community partnerships have rooted their initiatives at the campus farm while more than 15 student organizations, on campus and within the Geneva community, have benefited and contributed to our reach,” says Meyer.
Wickersham, a mathematics and education double major, says she learned a lot about managing a garden such as prepping garden beds for planting and establishing a straw bale garden. “It was interesting to discover how certain crops grow better or worse together,” she says. Wickersham contributed 75 hours on the farm sponsored by the HWS Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning.
Hauslauer, a sociolinguistics major, and Hobart, a biology major, spent considerable time prepping, planting and maintaining the farm’s 75 by 35 foot Grow to Give Garden, which has the theme of soul food this season. The produce grown is donated to the farm’s satellite Little Free Farmstands located on State Street and Middle Streets in Geneva. The interns learned about alternative gardening methods such as companion planting and pallet and gutter gardens. They each developed and hosted children’s workshops and farm events, such as the farm’s annual garlic sale. Hobart says he enjoyed assisting with the children’s pollinator programs and developing a Palette Painting and Planting program. “It’s been a true learning experience that will help me throughout my adult life,” says Hauslauer.
The interns also assisted with beekeeping and caring for the farm’s three honey bee hives. Hobart says he has come to appreciate the amount of work it takes to guarantee that a “hive is healthy and producing honey, and what it takes to ensure that a garden produces plenty of food.”
Crabtree, who started her internship in August, is studying the effects of honey bee foraging on buckwheat with guidance from Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology Brielle Fischman and Professor of Horticulture Thomas Bjorkman of Cornell AgriTech. This fall, she hopes to finalize the HWS Pollinator Habitat Plan, which includes both short and long term goals that range from implementing nesting boxes for solitary bees to setting up pollinator patches for native flowers and grasses. “The main objective is to make HWS a more pollinator friendly campus,” Crabtree says. “We are working to have “no mow zones” to let native grasses and flowers start growing.”
Many of the intern efforts pertaining to pollinators were in support of HWS’ recent designation of Bee Campus USA by the Xerces Society. The designation honors the Colleges’ commitment to raising awareness of the roles pollinators play in our communities and to creating sustainable habitats for pollinators on campus.
To learn more, visit HWS Fribolin Farm.