Thursday, November 18th was an evening filled with big thanks, delicious food and great fun. Members of the Class of 2020 (with the help of several faculty members and our wonderful kitchen staff) hosted a lovely dinner for the Olney Friends School family. Turkey, sweet potatoes, stuffing and green bean casserole made up the main course while diners feasted on blueberry, pumpkin and pecan pie for desert. During the meal, we heard what members of the community were thankful for.
Assistant Farm Manager Mark Hibbet also presented the annual farm report, sharing the many successes achieved by all the fine folks who have contributed time and effort over the past year, including our status as a USDA Certified Organic campus. Both Mark and veteran Farm Manager Don Guindon also expressed their gratitude for Sandy Sterrett, the long-time Assistant Farmer who retired at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.
Several major renovation and construction projects were added over the past year, including:
The Wellingdon: This vegetable washing room is designed to unload, weigh, clean, package, and process vegetables from ten acres of field and greenhouses.
A second chicken coop was constructed to house and grow broiler chickens. On the Taber property, a barn was erected to store organically grown hay. In addition, water and electricity are utilities reintroduced to this property.
A root cellar in the lower level of the Music Box starts off the lists of completed renovations. A shed roof addition to the eastside of the Towe Barn houses a new squeeze and head gate for the beef herd. Herd health and animal loading will be much safer and more efficient. A chain-linked fence surrounds 4100 square feet on the westside of the Cliff Guindon Chicken House. The enclosure allows the organic hens a free-range roaming area. Lastly, the farm office has been moved to the lower floor of the Main Building.
The animal portion of the farm has undergone several big changes. The broiler chicken production has expanded to 800 chickens a year. Four times a year on a six week cycle 200 chicks are raised for eight weeks, then butchered, to provide meat for students and staff. To date we have brought in 2,065.5 lbs. of chicken meat. The first organic chicken egg was collected on August 28, thus the start of the Olney’s organic egg production. The farm manages 173 organic hens that currently lay between 90 and 110 eggs a day. This past spring 6 goats kidded 13 kids, 6 bucklings and 7 doelings. At this time there is no financial report on goat sales but 6 goats have been sold. The introduction of the pork production began this fall with the purchase of 2 feeder pigs. They are a Yorkshire/Hampshire mix and will remain part of the farm until early spring. The beef cattle birthed 13 calves. From the overall herd, 8 animals were sold and 4 were butchered for the school. Of the 37 heads of beef cattle, 17 heads represent the organic beef herd.
The farm participated in two annual events. The theme for FARmOUT, a two day promotion that hosted middle school students from various schools in the region, was “Pioneer Farming”. Students learned about 18 th and 19 th century farming through a scavenger hunt, a poetry slam, cooking and baking, and a hands on demonstration showing how to care for gardens and small farm animals. The farm supported the school’s Harvest Festival by offering a hay wagon tour of the farm, by manning a farm market stand, and by setting up stations to make apple butter, shell dry beans, feed goats, and create art. Another ongoing program is the summer internship program. This year the farm chose four individuals: a returning Olney senior, an Olney alum of 2015, a local Barnesville High School student, and a visitor from Florida.