From its founding in 1947 until today, the land and how it has been managed has changed drastically. Summer camp alumni fondly remember the days of digging potatoes and moving cattle. The campers would then be served those same potatoes in the dining hall for dinner. In those early days, a good portion of Camp McDowell's food supply came from its own land. Eventually, the convenience and affordability of the food industry changed things. By the mid 1980s, all of camp's food was delivered by truck. Gone were the days of large scale agriculture at camp, however, smaller scale farming persisted; staff had residential gardens, summer crops were grown and harvested for dining halls, and an organic garden fed a small CSA (community supported agriculture). The McDowell Farm School looks to the history of farming at Camp McDowell as inspiration and precedent for its education programs.
The McDowell Farm School has returned to digging potatoes and many other seasonal crops ready for harvest throughout the year! We have produced food for Farm School participants and work to put as much local, sustainably grown and healthy food into our dining halls as possible. For the first two years of pilot programs, all classes took place at Fallen Oakes, our 3 acre production site on camp. In 2014, we expanded into Mark's Farm, a 40 acre hold at McDowell and our permanent home for McDowell Farm School. With the help of students and the whole Camp McDowell community, we have raised two barns, reassembled a greenhouse, built an expansive chicken coupe with multiple chicken yards, and established over four acres in crop production. We are constantly growing, building and improving our farm!
As the McDowell Farm School continues to grow and look to the future, we aim to stay true to our roots by producing food and managing our land using sustainable practices. Our goal is to have a farm that will produce alternative energy, zero waste and great food.