Published Sep 23, 2009

Farming for Food

By Suzi Howk

What a great field day! Teresa and I spent a beautiful day (not too hot, not too cold) out at Scattergood Friends School Farm, where we got tours of the school, the farm, and a wonderful meal to end the day!

We started off at the school where Mark Quee (Farm manager), and Dana Foster (Livestock manager) gave a little bit of introduction about the school, the farm, and what the goal was. Mark also talked about the great benefits that he gets from PFI and the community of like minded people that he really appreciates. We also got to have a great example of the variety that Iowa and heirlooms can offer with a beautiful Tomato taste testing.
From there we split up into two groups and went for the tour. We took about a 1/2 mile walk past the pond, through the pasture, and up to where the garden is. It was a great opportunity to be out in the landscape and to see all they had going. The first stop was the herds of approximately 60 sheep and 20 cattle that the farm raises for the school. Mark estimates that 100% of the meat for the school is provided for the farm with the herds that they have. Both herds are grazed intensively, and they often move the sheep around the farm and school to graze otherwise mown areas. Mark noted that he would much rather graze something than have to sit on a lawn mower. Many would agree!
The sheep were grazing in the Asparagus patch. Apparently sheep don’t like asparagus, so you end up with a well weeded asparagus bed and added fertility to boot!
We then stopped by the gardens where Mark and Dana work hard to provide fresh vegetables for the school as well as 3o CSA shares during the summer. They had quite a bit of diversity as far as varieties go, and many different kinds of vegetables as well! Mark talked about how he uses cover crops wherever he can, and this year is doing a trial with PFI on Radishes to hopefully break up any compaction that he has in the garden area.
While we were in the garden we pulled up Brassica plants that had already finished producing. The pigs just love them! Mark’s wife (whos name escapes me, im so sorry!!) talked about how it was very satisfying to take waste and see it made into something that they could actually use.
And it was true, the pigs really do love them! Scattergood currenly has 3 Guinea Hog sows that they use for their pork needs. The pigs weigh about 150 lbs at slaughter, and very very long and lean. They are not very “hammy”, but have great length across the middle. Pardon my lack of knowledge about hogs, but the animals looked happy, healthy, and interested in food!
Next we had a presentation about the Poultry trial that Scattergood is doing for PFI by one of their freshman Environmental Science students. The goal of the trial is to test out different breeds that work better for a pastured poultry system, rather than the typical Cornish Cross breed. The student seemed really interested in the trial, and was excited to answer attendees questions. Its great to see highschoolers getting involved in agriculture!

Finally we stopped by to see Scattergood’s Root Cellar. They have stored things such as green peppers, cabbages, potatoes, and many others. The cellar is very near the door to the kitchen, so Im sure that it is often used! Since Scattergood tries to use as much of it’s own products as possible, Mark and Dana try to have this root cellar as full as possible going into the winter.
The day ended with a great supper provided by the cooks at Scattergood and field day attendees. Every time we have
a potluck I am amazed at the wonderful variety that people bring, and it is always nutritious and yummy! Thank you again to Scattergood Friends School Farm for a wonderful day and field day!