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First year of farmhouse a sustainable success

First year of farmhouse a sustainable success

By Phoebe Roe

About a mile down Wiggin Street there is a white house surrounded by acres of open farmland. It is the unlikely residence of five Kenyon students with high hopes and green thumbs.

Kenyon purchased the farm in the spring of 2012 after AVI Manager John Marsh put it on the market. According to Alumni Director Lisa Schott, buying the farm was a last-minute decision. There wasnt really much of a plan, so we had to find students as fast as we could, she said.

Farmhouse occupant Jordan Rhyne 13 read about the farmhouse in the Collegian and immediately emailed his advisor, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Rural Life Center Howard Sacks to inquire about living there.

Rhyne got interested in farming when he came to Kenyon and discovered that few students were involved in the local agrarian community. You see rural life when you walk up and down campus but oftentimes youre dealing with professors and students and none of them are from rural backgrounds, he said.

I figured that if I am going to spend four years in a rural place then I should learn something about it. Rhyne has spent the past year cultivating the farm and planning for the future.

This year, the farmhouse occupants focused most of their time on cleaning up the farm and working with the limited supplies they had. Though, the students did splurge on ducks from Oregon five of them. They were expensive, kind of designer ducks, Rhyne said. Were hoping to have duck eggs in the next three to four months and then they will be laying for the next four to five years.

Next years occupants will have a year of hard work beginning in the summer, when two interns will spend their time cultivating the land. We will have tomatoes, squash, probably some strawberries, a lot of greens and things that Peirce likes to use, Rhyne said.

The plan is for the farmhouse to produce food for Peirce that does not compete with the food Peirce already purchases from local farmers. Were doing stuff like edamame and things that they really cant get locally, Rhyne said.

The interns will also be taking care of the ducks, a dog and two new goats: a mother and her calf, which were donated by one of the farmhouses neighbors.

According to farmhouse manager David Caldwell, the goats are another example of the generosity the farmhouse has been receiving from the community.

Farmhouse occupants encourage all Kenyon students to get involved with the farm. Many volunteer opportunities will arise next year as harvesting season begins. Were really counting on the students, and we have a lot of support from the community and our advisory group, Caldwell said.

Though located off campus, the farmhouse is still considered campus housing and thus students are expected to follow the rules listed in the Student Handbook.

Campus Safety drives by the house a few times per weekend and the maintenance crew drops off cleaning supplies. For the most part, though, the farmhouse students are on their own.

I never thought I would live anywhere like this, especially in college, Rhyne said as he walked through the farmhouses high-ceilinged living room and out the front door to greet his enthusiastic dog, Buddy. Its a great life.

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