Created in 2010, the two-acre Agawamuck 12 Star Fields (formerly known as the Corner Garden) located across the street from the Farm Store was created to provide alternative acreage for growing vegetables. Such a transformation was necessary due to increased flooding of the vegetable fields at the back of the farm behind the barns, a desire to grow more produce to meet on-site needs, and an interest in making vegetable production more oriented towards education and interaction. The Agawamuck 12 Star Fields gets its name from its location next to the Agawamuck Creek and within the historic Agawamuck Flood Plain; and from the 12 Fields which are each named after a sign in the zodiac – from Pisces to Aquarius. The word Agawamuck means stream of many fish in the language of the Mahicans, the Native Americans who lived in this region.
With 12 rotating fields of permanently raised beds, each year two fields go into, and two fields come out of cover crops. This low-input, more accessible initiative requires less infrastructure and serves as an ideal model for beginning farmers. We use a comparable approach to that described by Jean-Martin Fortier in his book The Market Gardener. However, our approach has two significant improvements (in our opinion):
- We are part of a Biodynamic farm organism, which – among other things – seeks to limit off-farm inputs. As such, in addition to an extensive cover cropping program, much of our fertility comes from compost made with our own cows’ manure.
- Our beds are 4.5 feet wide, instead of 4 feet, so while our growing area per bed is the same 30 inches, our paths in between each bed are 2 feet wide instead of 1.5 feet wide, which means more space for the farmer.
This 2.4-acre Biodynamic garden is designed for hand-work and uses tractors on a very limited basis. One goal of this garden is to provide vegetables for Hawthorne Valley’s various initiatives including the Farm Store and Deli, Visiting Students Program and Summer Camps, School Lunch Program, Bakery, campus events, and more.