The SAS Farm
Afternoons will find SAS students working away on the SAS Farm. On the Farm, students with interests in agriculture, gardening, and sustainable living get the opportunity to put their interests into practice. The afternoon program is a labor intensive opportunity for students to dig in and gain an understanding of the environmental importance of biodynamic land practices.
Students learn basic gardening practices such as preparing the soil, planting, transplanting, pruning, weeding, and the proper use of tools. These basic gardening practices give the students a deeper understanding of how to nourish the soil and treat it as a precious natural resource.
The focus of the SAS Farm Program is understanding sustainability. Sustainable land practices include hand tilling, focus on soil quality improvement, the use of crop rotation, inter-planting cover crops, and the use of companion planting to create a sustaining ecosystem.
Students gain the skills to create a food system without the use of chemical pesticides and find more environmentally sound ways to deal with challenges we face in the field. No prior experience is required, but students who participate generally have an interest in organic gardening, environmental studies/conservation, seed-to-plate practices, or botany.
The History of the Farm
Part of our 550-acre SAS campus is on what was once known as Colmore Farm. Robert Lionel Colmore, bursar and general manager of the University of the South in the 1800s, owned a large tract of land adjacent to the University Domain where he and his family lived and farmed. Father William Claiborne made a down payment on the farm in order to establish a school for needy mountain boys. The members of the Order of the Holy Cross, a monastic order from New York, opened St. Andrew's School in 1905 as a mission school.
For years the students at St. Andrew's continued to work Colmore Farm, raising food for themselves and their livestock. The Colmore name endures on the campus with one of the most popular student houses named in memory of Josh Colmore '95, the fifth generation of Colmores to be educated on the Mountain, but the farm had ceased operation years ago.
In 2008, SAS offered to provide land and support to a grower to produce organic food for the dining hall. An Afternoon Program was established in conjunction with the farm with students helping to grow organic food for the SAS dining hall. Student involvement on the SAS Farm is now a big component of the Middle School science and adventure education curriculum. Student students learn the principles of sustainable and biodynamic land practices. In 2015, SAS established a Farm Educator position, a full-time member of the faculty.
Ms. Wilson has had an interest in digging in the dirt from an early age. When she was in 7th grade, she helped plan, build, and plant a garden next to her house with the help of her neighbors who taught her how to create good soil and how to prune and graft fruit trees. As a student at Warren Wilson College, she was a four-year member of the landscaping crew and learned landscaping equipment and tools use and maintenance, native plant identification and propagation, and landscape design and creation. She spent one summer working on a lavender farm and vineyard in France.