In January 2018, ten soon-to-be graduates dedicated their semester to furthering Springstone Farm’s sustainability initiatives in four core areas: soil amendment (via composting), outdoor shower heating, rain irrigation, and hydroponics. A bond was quickly formed between the students and Joe Simmons, farmer and owner of Springstone Farm.
Here is a gist of each project:
1. Soil Amendment
Springstone Farm would like to amending the farming soil as the location of the farm contains high amounts of clay and sand. The client also stated that neighbors experience high amounts of water pooling during periods of heavy rain which indicate poor soil permeability. The objective of this project was to provide information and recommendations regarding the utilization of compost that is already available at Springstone Farm in effort to increase soil fertility. The current compost pile has all components of compost (nitrogen and carbon sources) separate from each other, and is thus unable to decompose at a fast rate. The plan for springstone involves removing large pieces of wood, combine carbon and nitrogen sources and then integrate perforated pipes into the pile which will add oxygen speeding up decomposition.
2. Off-Grid Heated Outdoor Shower
There was a lack of warm water during the cold seasons, therefore a mechanism was needed to heat the water in an off-grid, more efficient manner. The team devised a plan to implement a cost effective off-grid solar harvesting system which will power various technologies to provide heating and electricity to the outdoor bathroom.
3. Rainwater Harvesting for Irrigation
Springstone Farm was already harvesting water when we began to work with them, however the system was inefficient and could not be utilized to its highest capacity. The team has created a system to collect rainwater more effectively (by reworking the gutters and changing the location of the water collection totes), and distribute the water to the farthest pasture at the farm. Successful implementation of the plan will result in Springstone Farm relying less on groundwater, improving the supply of groundwater in Howell NJ.
4. Hydroponic Greenhouse
A team of innovative and driven students created a business growing microgreens hydroponically, and will join forces with Springstone Farm to bring hydroponics to the farm. The objective is to build and successfully set up a hydroponic greenhouse that would be up and running all year round to generate monthly income by growing and selling microgreens. All plans discussed in this section were designed with sustainability in mind.Each core area was tackled by teams of 2-3 students who honed in on the specific details of each area in order to deliver the best results. As of May 3rd, each group presented their final project to Joe Simmons to be implemented in the near future.