Food Insecurity and Brooktondale Food Pantry Capstone – Candice

Studying Food Insecurity and Volunteering at the Brooktondale Food Pantry – Capstone Project for Sustainable Farming and Food Systems – by Candice

Brooktondale Food Pantry Pickup Site
Brooktondale Food Pantry Pickup Site

I decided to do my Capstone project on food insecurity and how it related to families living in poverty. For this project, I  researched how easy it is to sink into poverty and how hard it is to get back to a stable financial life. I have also been volunteering my time at a local food pantry located right in Brooktondale.  You may think that a normal food pantry just gives out food to families in need, but this one does a lot more than just giving out food.  The Brooktondale Food Pantry has a full kitchen where it gives kids a chance to learn how to cook, and they have a full garden out back where they grow all of their vegetables for the kitchen and to give away at the food pantry.

Brooktondale Food Pantry Donations
Brooktondale Food Pantry Donations

One of the tasks that is included in volunteering at the Brooktondale Food Pantry is unloading vegetables and meats from the Southern Tier food truck that comes to Brooktondale and drops off donations. We have to sort everything out –  all the meats go together, all the cereals go together, veggies go together and so on.  Then we must inspect everything, this includes writing the date on our inventory sheet that it came to pantry and the date that it will be put out for families to take. We also have to check the expiration date and check to see if the product is damaged in any way. If it is damaged or out of date it gets put back on the truck. This is a food safety precaution that we have to follow. Some of the donations such as local fruits and vegetables are given to us from local farmers from Dryden, Cortland, Brooktondale and even Ithaca.  We also have been receiving a truck full of different kinds of breads from the Ithaca Bakery.

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Caroline Elementary School Garden Capstone – Steve

Caroline Elementary School Garden – Sustainable Farming and Food Systems Student Capstone Project – by Steve

Caroline Elementary Service Learning Day
Service Learning Day

When I first signed up for this Capstone class in Sustainable Farming and Food Systems Degree I really had no idea what the class was going to consist of, but I am super happy that it is part of my degree. This class makes you go out and do things in society that you might not think about doing on your own. I have always had a deep passion for gardening, teaching kids how to garden and grow their own food, and helping them to understand where their food is coming from.

Cleanup at Caroline Elementary School Garden
Steve Supervises Compost Hauling

I decided for my project that I was going to devote my time to Caroline Elementary School and teach some kids what I have learned while helping to restore the raised beds that the third graders plant in every year. I started my time there with a service learning day, where all the kids in the whole school came together and completed projects around the school to make it look better. Some were raking, some were weeding and some were taking wheelbarrows to the compost pile. We all got shirts that said we are needed and nothing could be more truthful than that. We had a great day and a lot got done and at the end of the day we all held hands around the whole school while a drone took our pictures from the sky. Unfortunately the pictures did not turn out all that well.

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Around the TC3 Farm – Student Post

Around the TC3 Farm Update – A Student Post by Steve

Well howdy there folks, just wanted to give you a little update on some things that are going on around the TC3 Farm lately. The tomatoes in the green house have pretty much run their course and we are now clearing out the plants to get the houses cleaned up and ready for winter plantings. Mostly thanks to our new Meadow Creature broadfork, we greatly increased our tomato yield this year compared to last, and we are still harvesting green tomatoes for the CSA and for the farm stand on campus. We also make sure we take the old plants away from the greenhouse to decay simply because we don’t want them around any other plants in case they have some sort of disease on them, playing it safe.

clearing greenhouse

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Getting Started Raising Chickens

Getting Started Raising Chickens – Student Post by Kevin

Chickens are becoming more expensive to keep with higher grain and building material costs, but still pay off in terms of  benefits to the land and adjoining systems of vegetable production or human food waste disposal. This is to say that chickens fill many niches in at least these two steps in the food supply chain, and with city ordinances in many places being modified to permit small flocks, even city dwellers can find a chicken situation to fits their needs. While these ordinances might limit flock size to a half dozen, prohibit roosters, and outlaw home slaughter, there is still room within them for production at a scale that far surpasses the needs of an individual family. Joel Salatin, a well known farmer and founder of Polyface Farm has said that chickens are even great role models for our kids – they get up early and always stay busy.

getting started raising chickens
A Frame Chicken Coop and Chicken Run 

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Strawberry Production on the TC3 Farm

Strawberry Production – This Week on the TC3 Farm – Student Post by Indigo

Strawberry ProductionFor me, nothing brings back Summer memories quite like fresh, sweet strawberries. Strawberries remind me of that sweet spot in the early Summer where nature is buzzing with vibrancy and warm nights go on seemingly endlessly. Before the strawberry eating beings, some work in the field needs to be done!

Last Fall we transplanted the strawberry plants into their beds and covered them to protect against the cold during the Winter months to come. Now as we enter late Spring, we go out to the field to uncover the plants. I’m happy to find that they survived and are well on their way to producing juicy fruits in the near Summer season. Last semester in the Fall, after planting, we trimmed back the extending vines, or runners, that extend from the “mother plant”, and produce new growth which eventually becomes established in the Earth. Some farms, like the one here at TC3, prefer cutting off these runner plants, as they take up more energy to grow. When runners are cut, the mother plant can focus its energy on producing berries, making them bigger and tastier, rather than making baby plants. Our farm is specifically looking to focus on the quality, not quantity of our strawberries.

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Composting and Strawberries at the Farm

Composting, Growing Strawberries, and Potting On Tomatoes – This Week at the TC3 Farm – Student Post By Candice

TC3 Farm Compost
TC3 Farm Compost Pile

This week at the TC3 farm we learned about composting. Composting is a natural process of recycling organic material such as leaves and vegetable scraps into rich soil humus. There are many benefits of composting food and other matter. Compost energizes the soil food web, which is made up of microscopic bacteria and fungi, along with earthworms, crickets and many other life forms. Compost enhances the ability of tomatoes and other vegetables to stand up to diseases and may improve their flavor and nutrition. Compost also helps the soil retain as much moisture as possible. You can get compost from a number of different commercial suppliers, but the best compost is homemade! The TC3 farm gets the raw material for making compost from the leftover food served at Coltivare Restaurant, in Ithaca, NY.

Uncovering Strawberries
Uncovering Strawberries

We also uncovered the strawberry patch which was under several layers of row cover for the winter, in order to let the sun get to them to enhance their nutrients. Although rained hard we were still able to get the whole patch weeded, mulched with wood chips, and we even replanted some of the plants we grew from runners in the greenhouse over the winter. Strawberry plants are known to have runners – which are stolons that the plants use to vegetatively propagate themselves. Most students offered to take the runners home and replant them last fall, while the rest were planted in the greenhouse to fill in gaps in the strawberry patch at the farm. Clipping the runners from the mother plant allows the mother plant to focus on fruit production rather than multiplying. The runners are doing great, they have blossomed and are now ready for this year’s season!

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