Thursday, August 29, 2013

Master Gardeners Visit Fulton Farm

by Carol Kagan, Franklin County Master Gardener

August 20th found Franklin County Master Gardeners at Fulton Center for Sustainable Living (Fulton Farm) on the Wilson College campus in Chambersburg. Master Gardener Christine Mayer is the Program Manager and gave a tour of the main areas of Fulton Farm.
Farm field with chicken tractor at the far edge
The Farm is a 50-acre farmstead, including a seven-acre farm with gardens and a passive-solar greenhouse. It is Wilson’s home for hands-on environmental education and provides the fruits, vegetables and herbs that supply the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
Covered pavilion for meetings, classes and social events
After meeting at the new covered pavilion, Mayer gave a brief overview of the program and everyone headed to the restored 19th-century barn where subscribers to the CSA have regular pick-ups of seasonal produce. On our visit there were tomatoes, onions, leeks, garlic, a variety of peppers, herbs, beans, squash and more. A covered outdoor washing and sorting area is a recent addition.
A selection of late July produce
There is an interpretive trail through the farm that passes through a restored wetland, meadow and forested area but the unpaved road hosted more activity in the early evening as bicyclists, runners and walkers passed through.

Mayer described the difference between a greenhouse, a high tunnel and a hoop house as we walked through the high tunnel. She noted that in spring they use horse manure to create a hot bed for seedlings. The heat from the decomposing manure creates enough heat to support the plants through the chill of early spring.
High tunnel in spring
Across the field she pointed out a chicken tractor and described how it's used. The small coop is raised and on wheels and can be moved from one site to another. The chickens and coop are surrounded by a wire enclosure. As the chickens scratch the ground and deposit chicken manure they are basically preparing the soil for planting - and, you get eggs!!
Chicken tractor
The Farm, as part of the Fulton Center for Sustainable Living, participates in a number of projects to explore sustainability in food production, energy, transportation and land stewardship, providing programs and information to increase community awareness. Projects include use of solar and wind energy, small scale biodiesel production, and various energy conservation practices. The Farm is currently working to get its organic gardening certification.
Fulton Farm at sunset
As we moved back to the pavilion for the Master Gardeners monthly meeting, Mayer noted that sunset on the Farm is often amazing; however, the clouds were so thick we didn't even get a hint. As we finished up Master Gardeners meeting we did note the almost full moon rising in the deepening blue sky.

Thanks to Chris Mayer for the tour and an opportunity to learn about the wonderful resource in Franklin County.

Photos by Carol Kagan, Wilson College Website and Fulton Center for Sustainable Living Facebook page

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