Farm season comes to a successful close

Crops being grown at the farm at St. Michael’s College.

Maggie Flanagan/Staff Writer/ courtesy of Julia Murdick

With only three class members and one intern this semester, the campus farm relied heavily on a small team to run smoothly. Instructor Christine Gull, Julia Murdick ‘25, Sarah Newton ‘24, Eliza Byrne ‘24, and Sarah Coloney ‘26 devoted abundant time and energy towards the growth of the campus farm. 

The farm brought in over $10,949 in 2023, which was a $1,294 increase from the previous year. 

“All money raised from the produce goes directly back into seeds, materials and any other farm necessities; therefore the prices can be kept lower in order to cater to students,” said Madeline Shanley ‘23. 

The Farm and Food Intensive is a unique course where students focus on farming skills, farm harvest and planning, food safety, and season extension. Julia Murdick is one of the crew members, as well as the Maintenance & Operations coordinator at the Center for the Environment. Murdick co-ran the farm stand on Thursdays and wrote the weekly farm newsletter.

 “It all pays off,” Murdick said. “Being involved with the process makes you want to do the hard work.”

 Murdick recommends the course but knows it is not for everyone. “I just love hands-on work, and not being in a classroom 24/7,” Murdick said. “I worked on farms in high school, so I was already interested in it. It’s such a small community, but we are all passionate about what we are doing down there. We really care about making an impact on campus. It’s a nice thing to be a part of.” 

The farm supplied Sodexo, students, staff, and families with sustainably grown vegetables. In 2023, the farm provided Sodexo with 983.086 pounds of produce, earning $3172.46. Last year, Sodexo only received 642.205 pounds of produce. 

Students working at the farm.

Farm products were sold in Alliot Hall on Thursdays. This year, the total revenue from all in-person farm stands was $1,037.84. 

“Working the farm stand was a really cool thing because you see everything that you’ve harvested just laid out on the table,” Murdick said. 

In 2023, the farm harvested 4,347 pounds of food, and sold 2,956 pounds to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) customers, the Self-Serve Farm Stand (SSFS), the In-Person Farm Stand (IPFS), and Sodexo. 873 pounds were donated to the farm team, campus food pantry, and other organizations. 

Coloney, a member of the farm crew, said, “It was really awesome to work with like-minded people. We were all farm veterans, we all had at least one season under our belts.” 

With this experienced group, the 2023 season ran smoothly and successfully. 

“All four of us would go to the OVE’s on Fridays,” Coloney said. Outdoor vounteer efforts (OVE’s) are offered weekly for all St. Mike’s students, and the volunteers help with various farm tasks. “That’s where we got a lot of our heavy lifting done, when we have a lot of volunteers on the farm to help us out,” said Coloney. 

Newton is a student farmer and works for the Center for the Environment as the Ecological Restoration Maintenance and Operations coordinator.

Before the summer farm program, Newton had never grown her own food. She has a different perspective now that she’s completed a full growing season.

 “It’s been really rewarding to see how the plant life cycles evolve and how they change from spring to fall. And learning how to grow my own food, knowing I can sustain myself in the future, it boosts your confidence,” Newton said. 

Byrne, a member of the farm team, held the Business and Operations title of Farm and Food Intensive course intern. After being abroad last year, Byrne adjusted back into the routine of the farm and her new leadership role. “I thought [this harvest season] was super successful. The team from this past summer did an awesome job setting it all up,” Byrne said. 

“We had a small team. We were sitting down and really prioritizing what needed to be done. And how do we get it done in the time allotted,” Byrne said. “We just got down to it, and got stuff done.”

 Byrne plans to take the spring semester edition of the internship. Like the other members of the crew, she hopes to see more people get engaged with the farm.

 “Food is such a community thing. It’s not just one person, it’s always being shared. It takes more than one person to grow something,” Byrne said.

Members of the farm staff gathering for a picnic.