Trevecca’s urban farm animals get a home

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Photo by Christy Ulmet

By Christy Ulmet

Within the next few days, Trevecca’s urban farm animals will have a new place to call home. The urban farm, which is used as an outdoor classroom for the environmental justice classes, is in the process of building a state-of-the-art barn to house and protect its goats, pigs, guard dogs and chickens. 
The barn, which is set to be completed within the upcoming week, will be 60 ft. x 48 ft in area. There will be 10 stalls, two rows of five separated by a 24 foot-long middle aisle. 
In the past year, Jason Adkins, environmental projects coordinator and farm operator, has realized the need for the security of the barn the hard way. The farm has lost numerous animals as a result of some security threats.

Most recently, four stray dogs made their way onto the farm through an opening in the fence and attacked some of the pigs. While one pig was able to escape the attack, four of the rare Ju-liana miniature pigs did not survive.
“The attack, which happened on the same day we first broke ground on the barn, kind of verified [the need] for us,” Adkins said. 
The farm has also suffered losses from natural occurrences. Last spring, one puppy didn’t make it through a severe rainstorm that resulted in a flood on the farm.This is not the first time the farm has flooded.
Brown’s Creek, which sits just below the farm right off of Trevecca’s campus, has caused numerous floods on the farm, threatening the animals’ safety. Providing a secure home for the animals, Adkins explained, can prevent disasters like this. The barn will be built on higher ground, adjacent to the current farm, in order to solve the flooding issue.
While the animals will spend much of their time in the barn, they will have access to the farm so they can have space to move around. The chicken coop will stay where it currently is, in the middle of the enclosed farm area. The goats will be moved around from time to time to graze different areas on campus. 
The barn will help facilitate the natural needs of the animals by providing a way to separate the male from the female, have a special stall specifically for birthing animals, and provide room for multiple farm volunteers to work with the animals. 
Along with housing the animals, the structure will serve many purposes. 
“The barn will be a place where campus visitors can see what Trevecca is doing, as well as provide a little bit more credibility for those seeking to give money towards the farm,” said Jamie Casler, director of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice, which provides an environmental justice degree. 
Casler hopes that the barn will become a place where children from the surrounding neighborhoods, who might otherwise not ever see farm animals firsthand, can come and interact with the farm animals.
In addition, Casler and Adkins are working to host workshops and classes in the barn. They expanded the original planned size of the aisle to 24 feet in order to accomplish this. 
Dan Boone, university president, has taken the lead on the financial side of the project. In order to help the program begin the construction of the barn, Boone gave $2,000 as the first gift towards the project.
Last December, the marketing department launched a campaign to help have the barn completed by Christmas. The campaign was made public the week before Christmas. 
“We were trying to take advantage of the Christmas season, as a sort of ‘stable campaign,’” Boone said. “We thought it would be a perfect time to encourage alumni to consider the project in their ‘end of the year’ gifts.” 
While the campaign failed to produce the $100,000 needed for the barn, it did prove successful in getting the word out. So far, Boone estimates that around $15,000 has been given.
The barn itself will only cost around $40,000, but the other $60,000 will be set aside for a new farm manager. Adkins realized the need for full-time employee as the farm began to grow last year.
The farm manager will oversee the daily care of the animals, as well as the sale of items produced by the animals—eggs, salves from the honey produced by honeybees, yarn spun from the wool of the angora goats, and more. The money raised by the sale of the items will help fund electricity and running water in the future, Adkins said. 
As the work on the barn makes its finishing touches, the urban farm will begin looking at ways to utilize it to suit the needs and interests of the people around it. 
“I’m really grateful for the support that the donors and administration have been in getting behind this expansion,” Adkins said. “I think it really marks a commitment to the urban farm and all the ways it enriches the students’ lives and learning that they have dedicated their time and efforts to. I’m really honored that they’ve put their weight behind this and given their attention to these needs.”
This article originally appeared in the January 2015 TrevEchoes.

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