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Friday, March 1, 2024
The Observer

Saint Mary‘s sustainable farm prepares for brood of chicks

The Sustainable Farm at Saint Mary’s is an accessible place for students to get hands-on experience and learn about sustainability and agriculture. Since its unveiling in the fall of 2020, the five-acre plot north of campus has grown in many ways and is now preparing to welcome a brood of baby chickens as well as host an open house next Friday.

Farm manager Matthew Insley is optimistic about the week ahead.

“We had chickens for the first time on the farm last semester and they were sort of a trial run,” he said. “They were very popular so this year we decided to go with some chicks in the spring.”

Insley sees the open house as an exciting event for the campus community.

“We want people to know that our students are doing awesome things like learning about local food production and what it takes to raise these birds, animals and crops,” he said. “I think people will be shocked and surprised to see how legit our farm is.”

Insley is joined by a team of professors, volunteers and student leaders who have worked to improve the farm and make it available for the entire tri-campus community. Maria Gonzalez-Diaz, the volunteer coordinator for the Office of Common Good (OCG), praised the student leaders who have worked to sustain the farm and prepare for the baby chickens.

“Valentina Rubio, Elizabeth Bourassa, and Dakota Freel have been working really hard to create a plan for the chicken brooder area,” she said. “We’ve been preparing for the chicks to arrive and then hopefully later in the spring we can begin seeing and planting things outside.”

Gonzalez-Diaz also said she is optimistic about the future of the farm.

“We’re partnering with Carrie Badertscher from campus ministries, and she has a nonprofit called ‘For The Good,’” she said. “Over the summer, once we have produce we’re going to be giving a good chunk of it to Carrie who then will create food boxes for the people whom she works with and serves.”

With the sustainable farm being the only one in the tri-campus community, Insley sees this as an opportunity to positively impact Saint Mary’s students.

“This is not the first campus farm in the country but there aren‘t that many, it‘s a unique project,” he said. “I think it‘s perfect for a women‘s college because one of the largest sectors of new pharma growth is actually young women who are learning these things and actually taking this on as a career path.”

Gonzalez-Diaz hopes the sustainable farm will continue to impact the greater South Bend community the same way it has impacted her.

“The farm is not only giving a spot for people to relax and, you know, take a brain break from their studies or whatever they’re working on but it also empowers people,” she said. “One of my goals is to introduce people who go to the farm to how you can get those skills you don’t learn from a textbook that are very necessary in daily life.”