by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Higher-than-average temperatures, intense rains, invasive pests, extended growing periods and other effects of a changing climate pose evolving challenges to farmers and other land stewards. A new interactive 360-video project highlights what’s working at Dickinson's College Farm and at other farm and forest sites across the Northeast to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The “As if You Were There” 360-degree video project was launched last April by the USDA Northeast Climate Hub, as part of its initiative to provide science-based information to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and D.C. Through it, viewers virtually tour rural and urban farms and forests that incorporate innovative sustainable techniques and practices. The site also includes additional resources about those techniques for viewers who wish to learn more.
As of this writing, seven out of 20 planned tours are complete. They include a tour of an urban forest in Worchester, Massachusetts, where 30,000 trees were replanted in 2014 to restore the city’s canopy; a 300-acre farm in Watkins Glen, N.Y., where agroforestry projects are underway; a national forest in West Virginia that’s being restored; an urban forestry project in Queens, N.Y., and Dickinson's College Farm, where rotational grazing, integrated pest and soil management strategies, hub ponds and other sustainable initiatives are already in place.
As they explore the College Farm landscapes—including its cow house, hub pond, woodlot and forest buffer, dike, vegetable field and pastures—viewers may click on explanatory texts. Video clips provide more in-depth explanations of several initiatives.
Two videos featuring Mackenze Burkhart ’15, a farm apprentice who manages the livestock program, explore silvopasture techniques that provide shade for livestock and help protect pastures as well as pasture-conservation practices. Videos with Jenn Halpin, the farm's director, examine the benefits and design of the farm’s hub ponds and describe student projects on frog and insect migration, as well as past and planned projects at the farm’s five-acre woodlot. Dan Dostie, a conservationist with the Pennsylvania Natural Resources Conservation Service, provides video information about soil, flash grazing, cover crops and invasive plant species at the College Farm and across the Northeast.
Published June 19, 2017