Posted by Cathy Bene on Nov 26, 2017

Horn Farm Education Center

11/22/17 at the York East Rotary Club weekly breakfast meeting held at Heritage Hills, Rotarians learned about the Horn Farm Center for Agricultural Education, located at 4945 Horn Road, York Pa 17406.  Alyson Earl, the Executive Director and Jon Darby, the Education Director explained that the 186 acre farm located in Hellam Township, was donated to York County in 1981 and is now a 501C(3) agricultural education center.
Greenhouses at the Horn Farm
Equipment is for rent for new farmers.      

Programs at the Horn Farm Education Center

The Center offers many programs including the Incubator Project to address the rising age and declining numbers of farmers in the US.  Presently, the average age of farmers in this country is 56 to 62 years of age, with 50% expected to retire over the next decade.  Previously, only those with a family farm and a tract of land passing through the generations were able to consider farming.  The Horn Center, however, gives opportunity and facilitation to others to get into farming by their infrastructure support including land to lease, equipment to rent, business training, assistance with business planning and development of a business plan as well as opportunity to experience different aspects of farming.  Greenhouses on site provide an experience of raising potted plants.   The 2-year Internship Program allows interns to learn the whole process from greenhouse to plate, how to grow food and feed themselves. 
The two- year Beekeeper Training Program teaches students how to manage all aspects of bee keeping.  The Woodland Restoration Project concentrates on how their 60 acres of wooded areas connect to farmland, preserving and protecting biodiversity of semi-wild lands, and land restoration. The farm is organically managed with methods of “Regenerative” farming emphasized to leave soil, water and air in better condition, (ie. a healthier landscape)..   The Agricultural Education Program also benefits our community with 75 families renting 102 garden plots in the summer.  Whether experienced or not, everyone is encouraged to try gardening.  In 2017, more than 65 classes and workshops were offered for community education in the areas of Farming and Gardening, Cooking, Wilderness Skills, and Ecological Design
There are two remaining classes this year:  December 2 is Foraging for wild edibles on the farm  and December 9 is Introduction to Permaculture.  Our speakers shared their experiences recently at a national conference in CA.    Future plans include collaboration  and data sharing with universities and the Lancaster  County Conservancy, programs to mitigate climate change and building a bridge between industrial  to regenerative  agriculture. 

Photo:  left to right, John Darby (Education Director, Horn Farm); Ben Marchant, (President-elect York East Rotary) and Alyson Earl (Execitove Director, Horn Farm)