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Dickinson College Experience Includes Cows and Plows

Dickinson College Experience Includes Cows and Plows

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At first glance, it just looks like another beautiful farm in Cumberland county. But this 50 acre spread near Boiling Springs has roots in academia.


It's Dickinson College Farm. 12 acres of organic vegetables and 18 acres of animal pasture with supervised student employees and volunteers tackling the daily chores.


Farm Manager Jenn Halpin says working on the farm has many benefits for the students involved.


"I think, through the work in the hot sun and in all the elements, whether it's a beautiful day or a crummy day, offers a better appreciation for the work it takes to grow food," said Halpin.


And it's not just an outdoor classroom for the school. As much as fifty percent of the produce consumed at the Dickinson dining hall comes from these fields, with much of the rest going to campus families or sold at the "Farmers on the Square" market in downtown Carlisle.


It's hard work for those doing the feeding, picking and plowing, but that's fine with them.


"It's really rewarding, after a hard day of work, just coming out and seeing the product of your labor," said graduate student Brendan Murtha." The environmental science major hopes to one day run his own organic farm.


Another unique aspect of this farm are the living accommodations for some of the farm apprentices. Their commute to work is a matter of feet. They need only step outside their yurts, specially constructed circular huts, complete with basic furnishings.


Yurt dweller Emily Bowie loves the peace and quiet of her "field-side apartment" after spending the day picking raspberries, bottle feeding sheep and moving beef cattle to an ungrazed field.


"The moon roof is really cool at night," said Bowie, pointing to a circular glass window in the ceiling. "You can see the stars at night and watch the clouds during the day." Two males share the largest yurt, while a female apprentice resides in each of the other two.


Although Dickinson College doesn't offer an Agriculture major, Halpin said many students involved in the farm program move on to careers in food production- related fields.


"It's great to be with students who want to be here and want to be part of something that is bigger than themselves," Halpin said.

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