Pearson’s Town Farm began as a student run garden in the summer of 2006. Developed and operated by alumn Matthew Olson ’06, produce from the garden was purchased by the college’s food service provider Bon Appétit for use in the cafeteria. As the first growing season waned, the garden began to take on a life of its own, and was run in subsequent years by students, faculty and staff volunteers.
In the spring of 2009 Bon Appétit wanted to further develop the garden to enlarge its potential. With funding from Bon Appétit, general manager Stuart Leckie hired a full-time farm manager and interns to expand the vegetable production and develop a program designed to educate young people about agriculture and their food. The vegetable garden on the Gowen property, which was historically a working farm, was expanded and livestock was introduced. The student garden, now a fully functioning farm, was re-named Pearson’s Town Farm after an early Anglo name for what is now the town of Standish, Me.
That summer’s crops were used in the College dining hall, Café Bon Appétit. During the summer break, produce was taken to Catherine’s Cupboard Food Pantry. This partnership flourished and bolstered the farm’s commitment to helping educate the community and fight the growing food insecurity issues that were arising.
On March 11, 2011, Saint Joseph’s College took over full financial responsibility of the farm. Serving in collaboration with the Mercy Center, Pearson’s Town Farm has been able to further develop and refine its commitment to educating the community and empowering the under-served through simple means of planting seeds and nurturing life. Using the principles of permaculture to increase honest sustainability and reduce dependence on outside inputs, the farm is creating a model that can be replicated by families with small gardens, new farmers, and existing farms alike.
In the spring of 2013 an additional 4 acres of land was cleared adjacent to the existing educational field and is being brought into vegetable production using both mechanical and biologic methods.