AmericanFarm.com

Goshen Farm harvesting students’ involvement

By JONATHAN CRIBBS
Associate Editor

CAPE ST. CLAIRE, Md. (May 2, 2016) — A youngster with an interest in agriculture would find little reason to leave Goshen Farm.
A short walk from the local elementary school through the woods to the farm’s rear, there’s an apiary recently completed by a student for his final Eagle Scout project.
There’s a newly planted fruit orchard to the right and, beyond that, a high tunnel containing produce and, hopefully in the near future, a small aquaponics set-up with tilapia.
“You grow a crop of protein as well as a crop of greens,” said Terry Brandon, a volunteer and board member for the foundation that oversees Goshen Farm just outside Annapolis.
It’s one of many ways the storied community farm works with students in the Cape St. Claire community with the goal of growing students’ interest in agriculture.
Last year, the farm partnered with the Anne Arundel County Public Schools to plant the fruit trees that make up the blossoming Memorial Grove, which honors deceased friends of the farm who helped restore and preserve it.
The partnership was paid for with a state government grant given to local governments, organizations and school systems to boost the number of forested stream buffers.
Students from nearby Broadneck High School and Southern High School planted the orchard with help from teachers, Goshen Farm volunteers and regional agriculturists.
“They love it,” Brandon said of students who spend time on the farm.
He said he also explains to them the possibility of spending more time on farms as part of a career. Many of them, he said, would likely have no reason to consider the industry were it not for their time at Goshen.
“I tell them, ‘There are very good jobs in the agricultural sector, and I bet you didn’t even know that,’” he said. “They don’t even know how to approach that.”
Goshen Farm dates back to the 1600s when it consisted of more than 200 acres. It passed through several owners and families and even employed up to 12 slaves in the 1800s and included oxen, cows, pigs, sheep, horses, mules and geese. It also grew corn, wheat, wool, beats, buckwheat and cabbage. A farmhouse, among several other buildings, was built in 1790 and remains a centerpiece of the farm foundation’s restoration efforts.
The farm also features a community sharing garden with 62 working plots with access to water and electricity. Roy Benner, the farm’s grounds chairman, said they encourage year-round gardening.
“If you really intensely farm them, you can get a lot out of them,” he said.
Broadneck High has started building a curriculum around activities on the farm, and classes ranging from art and photography to lessons for developmentally challenged and disabled students, and farm organizers said they hope they can lure other farmers — including those from the Eastern Shore — to voluntarily teach students who visit.
It’s a prized piece of land in Cape St. Claire, surrounded by homes and a community.
“I think the big deal is the serene green space,” Benner said. “You don’t see horses. You don’t see cars.”