Bethany McCarty will be the new manager of the Kenyon Farm, the College announced on Wednesday in a communications newsletter. McCarty, an Ohio State University graduate with a degree in agriscience education, has extensive professional experience in farming and agriculture. She will join the Kenyon community next week.
The College has been searching for a new manager since the sudden resignation of McCarty’s predecessor, Ryan Hottle, at the beginning of the academic year. The search committee was led by David Heithaus ’99, director of the Office of Green Initiatives, and included a number of faculty members, as well as representatives from the Brown Family Environmental Center and the Philander Chase Conservancy.
The search committee was particularly impressed by McCarty’s experience teaching and her knowledge of farming and agriculture. “Bethany has been around farming for most of her life, and her passion for growing food and sharing that experience with others will be obvious to anyone who spends more than five minutes with her,” Heithaus said in the College’s newsletter. “She has a detailed understanding of agriculture from seed to sale. Bethany loves teaching, but will never be convinced that she knows everything, and will be a solid part of the farm community.”
Originally from Mount Vernon, McCarty will enter her new role with a familiarity of the Knox County region, community and food systems. According to the farmers, having a manager with local expertise is important for helping them achieve their goals. “We’ve always wanted to grow our relationship with the community in Mount Vernon, and [McCarty] has very close ties with the local farmers,” student farmer Liz Navratil ’24 wrote in a message to the Collegian.
Prior to accepting her position as the Farm manager, McCarty worked as the business development manager for New Albany Organics, a farm located in the suburbs of Columbus. Before that, she was a farm manager at the Procter Center — a retreat, camp and event facility in London, Ohio with a six-acre vegetable and livestock farm.
Cheston noted that Hottle played a very limited role in directing the Farm from March 2020 up until his resignation and that, as a result, the Farm has been managed almost entirely by students for the past two growing seasons. While this time helped the farmers develop valuable experience, it posed a number of challenges. “We haven’t really done what we’ve wanted to do — that is, operate a Farm that is simultaneously educational, sustainable and engaged in the Knox community,” Cheston wrote in an email to the Collegian. “In order to fully realize student aspirations at the Farm, we need a full-time manager to stand as mentor and educator, the mediator between students and administration and as a contact to other farmers and food organizations in Knox County.”
McCarty shares the farmers’ enthusiasm and is coming to Kenyon with similar ambitions to contribute to the Kenyon and Knox County communities in meaningful ways. “The Kenyon Farm is such a special place because it teaches students and the community how to farm on a small, practical level while incorporating regenerative and sustainable practices that care for our environment,” McCarty said in the College’s newsletter. “It’s an educational tool for students and the community to learn about agriculture and how they can incorporate it into their daily lives, whether that is composting, planting a small garden or choosing to operate their own production farm after graduation.”
The farmers are excited about the additional contributions they will be able to make now that McCarty will be managing operations. “We’ll be planting vegetables and microgreens 12 months out of the year and helpfully supplying Pierce with as many eggs as they need. We are all looking forward to having a manager who has a strong vision for the farm!” Navratil wrote in a message to the Collegian. Cheston concurred, reiterating the farmers’ gratitude that they will be able to work with McCarty. “Bethany shared a lot of exciting, ambitious ideas with us when we met her earlier this month, and I think all of the student farmers agree that she will do a good job and bring much needed expertise to the Farm,” Cheston wrote.