Thatcher Farm, Southern’s agricultural initiative, keeps growing and improving under the guidance of Seth Shaffer.
This year will mark the program’s first as part of Seed Savers Exchange, a collaborative organization in which farms nationwide sell to or exchange heirloom seeds and supplies with other growers.
As part of Seed Savers Exchange’s Community Seed Resource Program, Thatcher Farm has been designated as a seed bank, only the fourth in Tennessee. A seed bank is a place where seeds are stored and used to reproduce the crops, while providing the opportunity to research the seed production in specific regions. The research results can serve as a resource for regional growers. Thatcher Farm will also provide community members with the resources to cultivate and collect their own heirloom seeds.
“It’s like a dream come true, the opportunity to get all of these varieties of seed for free,” said Shaffer, manager of the farm. “We now have access to a lot of different types of crops.”
Another first for Thatcher Farm, the staff is carrying out seed trials for Seedway, an international seed company. Shaffer has involved his student workers, as well as students enrolled in the sustainable agriculture course, in recording and performing the research for these seed trials.
In addition to these new ventures, Thatcher Farm is expanding, having received five acres of additional land to be cultivated in the upcoming year. Although mostly self-sufficient, the farm also benefited from a recent donation that will aid in paying for a new high tunnel — a greenhouse-like structure — for the land.
Shaffer is grateful for the new land from the University and the support of the surrounding community, and hopes that the farm will continue to grow and thrive for years to come.
Southern Adventist University | January 2017