Spring Update/Farm Stand Today!

Hi Everyone,

Greetings from the Pomona College Farm! It is starting to feel like spring at the Farm with everything growing and flowering from the last few weeks of rain. The apple trees are blooming, and we are starting to transplant our first tomato plants into the ground for the summer season.

We will be having Farm Stand today in the Smith Campus Center courtyard from 4-5:30. We will be selling beets, collard greens, kale, snow peas, and loquats! We will also be selling tomato and basil plants grown in our green house. Come by to buy fresh produce grown right here on campus!

We continue to have volunteer hours every Thursday afternoon 4-6pm and Saturday mornings 10-12.

Hope to see many of you around the Farm in the next few weeks! Look out for an April e-mail with our end of semester events.


Mary Alice

End of Semester Updates

The end of the semester is upon us. The days are getting shorter, the chickens are going to bed earlier, and the students are departing for a well-earned month of rest.

I would like to thank everyone who came to the Farm for an event, for a stroll, or to volunteer this semester. The Farm would not continue without your support and love for the place. We are taking a break from volunteer hours during the college’s winter break, but we will return the week of January 15th. I am excited to announce that beginning next semester, we will have volunteer hours Thursday afternoons 3-5pm for students, faculty/staff, and community members in addition to our normal Saturday volunteer hours. We’ve had a lot of interest in volunteering this semester, and we want to make that opportunity more available to everyone.

Our beekeeping workshop last month was a huge success, and we hope to have another one in the spring, so stay tuned for e-mails and Facebook events. Also, if you have farm-related knowledge or a skill that you would be interested in sharing at the Farm via a workshop or talk, please e-mail me and let me know!

Have a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year! I hope to see many of you around the Farm in 2018!


Mary Alice

Farm Stand and Beekeeping Workshop

The semester has been flying by, and there has been constant activity at the Farm with student volunteers, employees, and chicken caretakers here every day. Even as the days grow shorter, winter crops are starting to spring up and be harvested at the Farm.  We have planted a lot of greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and beets this fall, and now we wait patiently for everything to be ready to harvest.

We have several exciting events before the end of the semester:

This Thursday November, 16th, we will be having the last Farm Stand of the semester. Farm Stand will be at the Smith Campus Center 4-5pm, and we will be selling persimmons, sapotes, sunchokes, arugula, and other produce, as well as Farm apparel!

Saturday November, 18th, we will be having a Beekeeping Workshop at the Farm from 1:30- 2:30pm. Come learn the basics of beekeeping from a local, professional beekeeper!

As always, we have Saturday volunteer hours every week from 10am- 12pm. We will not have volunteer hours the weekend of Thanksgiving, but we will be back the following Saturday, December 2nd.

I hope this finds you all well!  I know the end of the semester can be a hectic time for everyone, so please feel free to come down to the Farm to take a break and get away from campus for a bit.


Mary Alice

Greetings from the Farm!

As my first month of being farm manager comes to a close, I wanted to send out an update on everything that has been going on at the corner of 1st street and Amherst.

As of July 1st, we said goodbye to Aaron Cyr-Mutty who had been leading the Farm for the last year. We were all sad to see him go, but thankful for his year of leadership, which lives on in the thriving crops planted this spring.

Our produce is in full swing this summer, and we use most of our harvest for weekly produce boxes sold to faculty and staff of the college. We currently have an abundance of tomatoes, along with a fair amount of eggplant, chard, okra, and other crops. We also had a July pumpkin harvest, which is being stored for later this fall!

Even with most of the students being gone for the summer, there has still been a steady flow of people down at the Farm. The dedicated summer farm crew is working five days a week throughout the hot summer months, and they, along with student and community volunteers, make the Farm possible.

The Farm hosted Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS) students in June and July. These PAYS students that chose to spend two afternoons a week down at the Farm learned about composting, plant identification, bed preparation, and other aspects of sustainable agriculture. They also helped us paint some of our wheelbarrows and harvested produce for an end of summer celebration!

As the summer winds to a close, we are doing some final projects to prepare for the year. We are re-mulching the paths, putting on a new coat of paint in the greenhouse, and expanding the kitchen area to have more room for potlucks this year. I am extremely excited for students to return later this month, but until then, I and the summer farmies will be soaking in the last few quiet weeks on campus before the student rush begins.

Hope you all enjoy the end of your summer! If you are in the area, feel free to come help out during Saturday volunteer hours every Saturday morning 10-12.


Mary Alice

Field Notes ’16

Hi All,

It’s been tough to find time to write a more comprehensive update about what has happened at the farm during the fall and summer, so given the rainy day and the relative lull of early January, I’ll give it a shot.

This summer was hot and dry. July and August were unrelenting, and the heat remained well into October. These conditions made for a difficult summer of growing, especially when we are growing in an area already stricken by drought. One of the easiest ways to manager heat stress in a plant is to water it from above in the midday heat – a technique you can see in use during the summer if you head south into Chino – but managing heat stress with water is not the most responsible move in southern California.

Luckily we did discover a great summer cover crop for our region – cowpea. Cowpea is a black eyed pea cultivar that does extremely well in the the summer heat, growing a thick enough canopy of foliage to shade out the soil. This helps keep that soil in good condition throughout the summer, losing less water through evaporation. Harvested young, cowpea greens can also be used as a heat tolerant spinach substitute. Other summer successes included our extremely long lived tomato plants, Italian basil that somehow refused to bolt, and the construction of a seasonal shaded nursery area (a project I hope to continue in the late spring).

By next summer, I hope to have installed a permanent shade structure for our nursery area, and a moveable tunnel shade structure to offer some shade to our succeptible summer crops. Though our greenhouse is great this time of year, in the summer our seedlings need cooler temperatures, and though plants like summer squash, eggplants, and bell peppers all enjoy the warm weather, they can all go dormant in the worst of the heat. With the help of shade cloth we can keep starting seedlings throughout the heat, and we may even be able to grow some summer greens!

The heat this fall also proved difficult, keeping us from planting our cool season crops as early as we would like. Much of what we grow during the cool season becomes heat stressed with temperatures over 85 degrees (think lettuce, peas, greens, broccoli, cabbage), and long periods of high heat can ruin the flavor and texture of certain veggies. This meant that intensive cool season planting couldn’t start until well into October. Certain plants, like our broccoli, have much lower yields due to this delay, and the lower levels of sunlight they receive during their growing season. Other plants, like greens, have been unfazed by the shorter days, and have shot up throughout the fall.

I find that I learn the most at the farm from mistakes and failures. Not just my own (though certainly that), but also past mistakes. I’ve learned more about fruit trees by watching our peaches slowly die than in any other time in my life, and though I hope to save a few with some early season care, they stand as a reminder of how not to treat a tree, and how a series of small stressors can ultimately lead to a tree’s demise. It’s not only the peach borers, or only the drought, or only the over-pruning, or only the cytospora – a healthy peach can handle all of these individually – but the combination of all these factors. Borers tend to attack drought stressed trees and cytospora infects the wounds made by the borers and pruning cuts. It makes me think a lot about stress. I’ll get back to you on that.

The more optimistic side of me says it’s all part of the cycle, and we have been planting new trees to replace the old ones as they go out. Some of our peaches are about 15 years old, which is old for a tree that has been bred to produce heavily. We’ve also been planting a ton of new native plants in the newly established grandmother garden and hope to continue to turn the garden into an educational space where people can learn, not only about California native plants, but also their uses by and importance to local tribal communities.

Speaking of cycles, the spring/summer season is already upon us! Early tomato and pepper seedlings have already sprouted up in the greenhouse, and our summer seed order is on its way. We’ll be offering a Spring Planting 101 workshop early in the season for anyone interested in learning more about what to put in the ground.

Peas and Carrots,


Claremont Food Justice Summit

Hi all,

This week kicks off the Claremont Food Justice Summit on Pomona’s campus! After months of preparation, the students organizing this event have put together a killer lineup of events and speakers spanning a wide array of topics. The Sunday of the Summit will mark the opening ceremony for the new Indigenous Heritage Garden on the north side of the West farm. The Summit is free and open to the public. More information can be found on their Facebook page.

This Wednesday from 4-6 the Farm will also be offering a workshop on propagating plant cuttings. We will be taking cuttings for the Indigenous Heritage Garden, our new pergola area, as well as for San Antonio High School. Bring a pair of pruners/scissors if you like, or we can provide a pair for you to borrow. You will be able to take plants home!

Claremont Food Justice Summit poster



Breaking New Ground

Hi all,

Spring has officially sprung and the Farm is in full bloom. Calendula, agrostemma, nasturtium, bachelors buttons, sweet peas, and more are painting the Farm in beautifully vibrant colors.

March is the time for planting so plants can establish themselves before the heat of summer kicks in, and we are excited to share that the Farm is expanding its boundaries for our new native plant garden. We are working with local Tongva elders to create an indigenous heritage garden including plants for food, medicine, spirituality, and fibers. Come help tomorrow at 4:15pm to put the first plants in the ground!

This Thursday we will be also be having a potluck at 6pm as a welcome back from Spring break!

RSVP here:

Indigenous Heritage Garden Planting

Back from Break Potluck

Peas and carrots,


Eat Your Weeds!

Hello all,

Summer planting is in full swing! Flowers, beans, tomatoes, eggplants, squash, and more are digging their roots into the ground and promising delicious food in the near future. Our brassicas are bolting in the heat and soon we will be collecting their seeds to save for next winter.

The time in between seasons, when the leafy greens are turning bitter but the peppers are not producing, is the perfect time to devour the nutritious volunteer crops we call weeds! One of our favorites on the Farm is stinging nettle. Nettles have been used for centuries as a medicinal herb to treat arthritis, eczema, asthma, UTIs, insect bites, and much much more! Not to mention they are pretty damn tasty in pizzas, pasta, stir frys, and more or less everything. Make sure to harvest with thick gloves and long sleeves, and cook to remove the stinging hairs before you eat!

To learn more about cooking stinging nettles come to our workshop this Saturday at 3pm to make stinging nettle pasta.

This Friday we will also be having a potluck on the Farm at 5pm in the outdoor kitchen. RSVP for the events on our Facebook page below.

Stinging Nettle Workshop, Saturday 2/27 3pm.

Farm Potluck, Friday 2/26 5pm.

Peas and Carrots,


Potluck and Family Weekend

Hi all,

Climate change is here and it poses major threats to our delicate agricultural systems. After a couple chilly weeks of winter we are facing temperatures in the high 80s that is uncharacteristic even for Southern California. Our delicate cool season crops like snap peas and greens are wilting in the beating sun, but will next week be back to night time lows of 30 degrees? Has winter jumped over spring and entered summer full force? Should we compost the cabbage starts in the greenhouse and begin planting squash and okra, or will one good cold snap take those out as well? These are the questions farmers are starting to ask more and more as our climate begins to become unpredictable.

In light of the undoubtedly turbulent road ahead for our changing climate we must adapt our food system to be resilient and work with nature, rather than a simplistic monoculture attempting to tame the variables of our natural world. And the roots of this resilience will be strong local food communities. And what better way to build community than a good ol’ fashioned potluck?

-Join us this Thursday at 4pm for a Potluck on the Farm! This event will be cosponsored by Common Vision, an California school garden organization founded by Pomona alumni. Please bring a dish to share and RSVP on our Facebook event.

-This weekend is Family Weekend at Pomona College and the Farm will be having volunteer work hours, guided educational tours, and a farm stand featuring smoothies and pizza made with farm ingredients. Bring mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa, it’ll be a great time! Check out our Facebook event for more info.



Celebrations on the Farm

Hi all,

This week we have a special combination of extra festive celebratory workshops. Tomorrow (Tuesday 2/2) we will be planting new fruit trees on the Farm to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shvat. Tu B’Shvat is also known as “the new year for the trees” or the “birthday of the trees,” and to celebrate we will be planting persimmons, olives, and pomegranates while we nom down on some kosher fruit snacks. Rabbi Yossi Matusof of Chabad will share about the history of the holiday while we plant trees into the sunset.

The celebrations continue Friday at 4pm with the first cooking workshop of the semester. Our new cooking workshop coordinator Olivia Whitener will be leading us as we make dumplings with veggies from the Farm to celebrate Chinese New Year. Stick around afterwards for our first Farm Friday potluck of the semester.

RSVP to these events on our Facebook page:

-Tu B’Shvat Tree Planting Celebration; Tuesday 2/2, 4pm

-Dumpling Cooking Workshop; Friday 2/5, 4pm