Haverford College has a farm — yes, a farm — on its campus.
By Sally Pearson
Wandering between beds of produce–carrots sprouting in one bed, spinach in the next—Ellis Maxwell, my tour guide for the afternoon, identified plants as we walked. The spinach under the tarp here was recently planted and would grow quickly. The onions here would grow over the winter and could be harvested in early spring. These rows had already been harvested so the green ground cover was revitalizing the soil.
This day in late October the Haverford junior wandered in black sweatpants and a black hoodie. He was comfortable on the farm, a year-round farming and educational space on the Main Line campus.
The Lavender plants were hiding under a white cloth. Maxwell crouched down and pulled up the cloth and bent off a muted green stem to smell.
Many of his favorite plants seemed to be those with tea making potential. He said he liked trying different combinations of herbs in his tea. He taught himself to make his own. Now, he admitted, he makes it almost every day.
Outside the fence of the garden, Maxwell picked a sprig of Chocolate mint, a brown and green marbled plant growing along the ground near the outside fence and handed it to me, it could have been mistaken for a weed to a less experienced eye. It can also be used for making tea, he said. He rubbed his own stem between his fingers. “Or I just eat it” he smiled, and chewed his bit of chocolate mint.
Ellis Maxwell strikes a comic pose
Haverfarm was quiet that afternoon. It was just Maxwell, me, the Farm Fellow who was working that day, and the occasional dog walker taking a detour from Haverford College’s nature trail.
These walkers remind you of your close proximity to the rest of the world. A neighborhood was behind a few lines of trees, a road was within calling distance, and Center City Philadelphia was nine miles from the secluded community garden where we stood. Haverfarm’s existence is a bit unexpected. Maxwell, too, is full of the unexpected. Continue reading