MyFarm growing into a sustainable classroom
Students and campus groups are taking advantage of a new 76-acre classroom at Queen’s. Reg Pearce, an executive chef who’s been with Queen’s for 33 years, owns a farm located east of Gananoque. It was his idea to partner with Queen’s and Sodexo to turn the land, called MyFarm, into a living, sustainable classroom.
“The initial plan was to have a place to show students where their food comes from, but it’s quickly growing into much more,” says Chef Pearce.
A number of research projects are already underway on MyFarm. Engineering students are working on a project that will take the used oil from the fryers on campus and turn it into biodiesel to help power the farm. Other students are researching wind and solar power projects. A group of fourth-year geology students are studying the feasibility of organic produce.
And yet another class is studying the importance of the bees on the farm, and working to increase the population from three hives to ten.
University groups are also partnering with the farm. The Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre is using two acres of land to grow their traditional “three sisters”: corn, beans and squash, for next year’s educational powwow.
They’re also growing sweetgrass to use in ceremonies, and participants recently went on a medicine walk and found 30 different wild plants on the farm that can be used in traditional healing. There are plans to build a sweat lodge on the property next year.
Additional plans for the spring include a greenhouse to produce seedlings; a certified organic fruit and vegetable garden; and areas to raise free-range, hormone-free pork and chicken, all of which will make their way back to students at the campus farmer’s market.
Although MyFarm is still in its infancy, Chef Pearce is very proud of what’s already been accomplished.
“It’s a program that’s very dear to my heart,” he adds. “We have enough land in this country to feed the world but we’re just not using it effectively. It’s exciting to see all these plans in motion on the farm.”