Sunday, November 13, 2011

EcoHouse & SVF: Yale Farm Trip

Here's some pictures from our trip with EcoHouse to the Yale Student Farm in New Haven!
Photo credit: Kayla Bingham

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A pleasant hello to all!

After an insanely productive summer during which Spring Valley Farm was practically overthrown by tomato plants, kale, and swiss chard (along with a flourishing of marigolds and a very amusing rectangle of corn) came the dawn of a new era! (cue that semi epic music here for more dramatic effect)

Many changes have fallen, or not so much fallen as waltzed, deliberately stumbled or arrived in place. Two very big ones being:

We have acquired a wonderful Julia! (and by Julia I mean farm manager who brings us bagels sometimes and cooks marvelous wasabi chicken. oh and helps us with planting and stuff, but that’s on the side… kidding, kidding)
We have acquired a second house. (well not so much we as UConn, and unexcitingly it didn’t fall from the sky onto a plot of land but already existing and in need of renovation)

SO! Inevitably that means there are more of “us” living at the farm this year.

We have…

Andrew B, resident coffee brewer and peanut butter [consumer|cookie maker]
Andrew L, resident carrot enthusiast and jam maker
Chris, resident musician and chief goofy dancer
Laura, resident [comic] artist and life commentator
Lina, resident apple fanatic and specialized food burner
Paul, resident painter and chief book reader
Shane, resident motorcyclist and avid “on repeat” music blaster
Tanner, resident early bird and wood burner
Tanya, resident pottery maniac and fish owner
Trevor, resident dreadie and rabbit lover
Andrew Le, resident grad student and marathon runner

Other inventory includes:

  • A new shed (non-lead painted)
  • Playset style chicken coop
  • New fence extension! (without electricity running through it)
  • And soon to arrive chickens!
[more to come sooooooooooooon] +[pictures]

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

SVF is Savin' Some Energy!

Since being environmentally friendly is what we're all about at SVF we are determined to make some home improvements to be more energy efficient.  Andrew helped to get us going by signing up for the Neighbor to Neighbor Lightening Program. This free  program is a team of Clean Energy Corps members who come to your house and replace incandescent bulbs with regular and speciality CFL light bulbs in high use areas. By doing this, the program estimates you can save up to 5oo kilowatt hours which translates into at least $100 a year. Not bad!

The Corps members also calculate your own personal energy savings, provide ways in which you can further save energy by signing up for their Home Energy Solutions and CTCleanEnergyOption programs, and teach you about earning special rewards for your community.

Here are the results for the SVF house:

  • Cut our electricity use by an estimated 399 kilowatt hours per year
  • Now save $71 a year from this reduction (more $$$ for seeds and chickens! Woo!)
  • Reduced electricity demand by 526 watts of power which is the equivalent of electricity generated from 1.6 200 watt solar photovoltaic panels installed on our roof
  • Our actions have resulted in our Town of Mansfield
We even supported our local community in more ways than one! One of the Corps members who helped us reduce our energy impact was a recent graduate of UConn! Small world...

Reduce your energy consumption and check out the Neighbor to Neighbor to Lighting Program  by clicking on the link. 

Real Slow Foods Pot Luck Dinner

Part of establishing a strong local food community involves supporting and collaborating with groups who have similar goals. That is why this past Friday SVF decided to host a pot luck with the UConn student run organization, Real Slow Foods (RSF).

RSF's mission promotes the production of environmentally sustainable and socially just food that is healthy and enjoyable for all. They emphasize a holistic food system that encourages thinking about your food from farm to plate, considering the ways in which you can make a difference along the way. RSF works with Whitney Dining Hall and Dining Services to bring food that reflects this way of eating to UConn.

 The idea of the pot luck came with the desire to connect SVF and RSF and of course to share some good food and conversation. Check out some photos of what was made!

Everyone gathered around 

One of the members cleverly represented the idea of "Slow" food by making chocolate snails. Good idea!

A slow and steady cheese turtle. 

Veggie cous cous

Raisin-bran muffins 
We'll definitely be doing another pot luck here at SVF sometime again soon. Maybe a spring time theme perhaps? Stay tuned.

If you'd like to know more about RSF at UConn visit their webpage.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Picture Update!

Here are some photos we've taken the last couple of weeks. Enjoy!


Off to feed the chickens!

With all the snow we've been doing a lot of sledding.

Trevor makes a path...

Home.  :)

How SVF Came to Be

Spring Valley Farm is officially under way! Weve been here for a little under a month now and figure it would only be appropriate to share the story of how Spring Valley Farm got started.

Spring Valley began when Matt Oricchio, a Horticulture major at UConn, envisioned a place that would allow students to develop an interest in organic farming.  His vision stemmed from his experiences as a teenager, experimenting with growing plants and raising chickens in his backyard (quite to his parents dismay, he may add).  He eventually proposed the idea to the University, asking permission to establish the farm with the help of another student named Jess. Residential Life supported their ideas and worked with them to provide the housing for the farm. The two moved in during the beginning of the spring semester of their Senior year in 2010 where they hastily got to work, clearing a one acre plot for a variety of garden vegetables.  Both had an interest in poultry farming, so they also decided to build a chicken coop where they raised a small flock of chickens. 
As summer approached Jess and Matt both graduated, however, the two resolved to live and work on the farm for the rest of the growing season. It was during this time that Spring Valley fully came together.  They established a partnership with Dining Services who agreed to buy produce from the farm which is used at the on-campus restaurant Chuck and Augies. They also began selling at farmers markets, creating a name for Spring Valley within the local community. 

Even though they had put so much work into the farm, Matt and Jess knew they had to pass it on to other UConn students. In the fall of 2010, they planned for students from the EcoHouse learning community to move in the following spring semester. They held workshops for interested EcoHouse students, teaching them how to plant and harvest the crops and take care of the chickens. It was then that Lucy, Trevor, Andrew and I (Katie) decided to take the plunge and be a part of Spring Valleys history.

Lucy, Trevor, Katie, Andrew

Peace, love and carrots, 

Lucy, Trevor, Katie, and Andrew

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Greetings!  Right now we have two chickens and a whole lot of snow.  I love all of them :)