The University Farm’s summer has been full of kids of all kinds, colorful crops, and prosperous projects. Farm staff, work studies, and AmeriCorps summer associates gave tours to around 500 visitors from local schools and community groups. The tours included education on season extension, aquaponics, cover crops, native plants, pollinators, and pasture rotation featuring, of course, goats! Little is as engaging as the 22 kids born this summer.
Another summer project recently came to fruition at a community event at Tracy City Elementary School. The Farm’s AmeriCorps VISTA, Erin Lee, serving as the network coordinator for the plateau’s Cumberland Teaching Gardens (CTG), organized and managed a high tunnel raising on June 29, at the school. Around 25 volunteers from the community came out to help. This fall, the 45-by-18 feet high tunnel will be incorporated into the school as an outdoor classroom for multiple grade levels to supplement science education.
Erin, who began her project in February, strives to connect key stakeholders across the South Cumberland Plateau to facilitate the implementation, growth, and success of teaching gardening programs. CTG exists to provide support and resources for community leaders to establish teaching gardens that serve their community. There are six teaching gardens currently involved in the network and additional sites in various stages of development. Erin and CTG are supported by anonymous donors and a grant from the Newman’s Own Foundation.
Two additional VISTAs also joined the farm team in May. Emily Heid, a recent Sewanee graduate, is serving as a specialty crop economic development coordinator and working with local farmers to establish an herb and spice cooperative. Ashley Pancoast relocated from central Florida to serve as farm marketing and communications coordinator.