BAR HARBOR, MAINE — A bounce house, ice cream, and horse-drawn carriage rides will be just some of the activities offered to kids and their parents at Family Fun Day — a first-ever College of the Atlantic event that’s free and open to the public.
The event, 10 a.m. to noon Thursday, Aug. 7, will feature farm life with a little flair at Peggy Rockefeller Farms, 125-acres of farm and conservation land the college acquired in 2010. The farm raises animals, including sheep and chickens, and crops such as onions, garlic, potatoes, and peas.
Families are invited to visit the farm for a morning of kid-friendly activities, food, animals, games and information about COA farm programs. The morning will include a bounce house, face painting, a farm sing-a-long with acoustic guitarist and COA graduate Ben Moniz ‘14, Mount Desert Island ice cream, bubbles, flying discs, real animals and a chance to talk with the farmers. Stay for the whole thing or just come for a bit!
David Rockefeller Sr., made a generous gift of the farms to COA in January 2010, to be used in perpetuity for agriculture and conservation. The farms consist of 125 acres divided among four parcels at the junction of Crooked Road and Norway Drive in Bar Harbor.
The gift of the farms was accompanied by an endowment to help cover costs of management, maintenance and repairs. The properties include a Cape Cod-style farmhouse; a heated garage; 3 barns and several animal shelters; and a small outbuilding with electricity, water and heat.
The farms are part of the largest remaining contiguous area of pasture on Mount Desert Island. They have prime agricultural soils suitable for cropping, livestock, orchards and other uses. Two-thirds of the property is covered with second-growth forest or wetland. Acadia National Park administers a conservation easement on the farms.
Under COA’s management, the Peggy Rockefeller Farms have installed solar panels that generate all of the electricity used on the property; planted fruit trees and raspberries near the farmhouse; analyzed soil quality and limed the pastures; established a vegetable garden along Norway Drive; drilled a new well; repaired fences and gates; conducted an energy audit of the farmhouse; conducted forestry surveys and created a forestry management plan; and developed plans for farm management options and a report on the potential for agroforestry.
The farms have a small flock of Romney and Katahdin sheep and students are implementing plans for rotational grazing with cattle, sheep and chickens; an ecologically managed orchard that will demonstrate agroforestry and silviculture; crop production in the fields and in hoophouses; and compost production to recycle farm and food residue. The farm will install additional solar panels to meet its growing needs and offset on-campus use of electricity. COA intends to make the farm “net renewably powered” within two years.
COA students have the opportunity to design and participate in independent and group studies, work-study jobs, and final projects that involve the Peggy Rockefeller Farms.
College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit http://www.coa.edu.