Only 22 days to go!

Thanks to the support of friends, family, and the Cornell community we have reached 30% of our goal in just 1 week!

Our crowdfunding campaign connected us with many Dilmun Alumni. They are so excited to see the farm growing and have been sending messages of excitement and support.

We have also had the opportunity to share the project with our friends and family. With the generous and thoughtful gifts, the barn project has a community of care and determination behind its success.

Help us to keep spreading the word! We have 3 weeks left and 70% of our goal to earn.

Check out our campaign at:


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We are so excited that TODAY IS THE DAY our crowdfunding campaign launches!

Please watch our great video, read about the project, and support us!

Check out our campaign at: 

What will your money go towards, you ask?

All of the money goes DIRECTLY to the Dilmun Hill Barn Project and will be used this summer when we break ground! 

Material upgrades for Phases I-III (such as nicer siding materials like natural wood, and MORE WINDOWS) and the hardware needed for Phase IV so that we can make the barn net zero.

We hope that you will join us and come see what you help us achieve next time you are in Ithaca! This is going to be the first ever student-designed building in CORNELL HISTORY. Please feel free to reach out to anybody on our team with any questions that you have, or if you would like to donate hard goods to our project (for example, if you own something amazing like a solar panel company)!

Thank you to everyone who has helped us so far! Only a few hours in and we have almost reached $1,000! Please help us blow our goal out of the water and create the best barn that Cornell has seen!


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The Drawings are in!

Our architects have submitted the final working drawings for the barn!

After many rounds of review and critique, our architects have come to their final iteration of the barn’s design. Jeremy and Sasson, our two architects, have worked tirelessly to produce a cohesive product that embodies the demands of sustainable design, agricultural needs, and the Cornell University building standards.

The drawings we developed focused mainly on the facade details. Jeremy and Sasson worked towards finalizing the drawings for the barn, but expect to make other small changes as we get closer to approval. The facade provides an understanding of the spatial characteristics within the barn for viewers outside of it.

Our architects designed the structure for maximized natural lighting in the main space. This will minimize energy costs and will make for a pleasant, sunny community gathering point.

The last rendering depicts our plans for future phases. The success of our upcoming crowdfunding campaign is essential for the completion of phase 2 of the barn.

Now the drawings will go through the approval process so we can officially break ground this summer.

Check out the drawings!


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Film Shoot!

Yesterday we headed to the farm to film our Crowdfunding video

Adam Murtland, Assistant Director for Digital Content at Cornell, is working with us to create a video that tells our story and reflects the passion behind the Dilmun Hill Barn Project.

He compiled footage of the team members working together and one-on-one interviews where we talked about our individual roles and the overall mission of the project. Adam even captured drone shots of the farm. Now he will work to put it together into a concise 2 to 3 minute clip.

We are so excited for donors, family members and the wider Cornell Community to see and feel the heart behind our mission. We hope that it will inspire viewers to want to have a hand in the barn’s creation through donations and/or becoming involved in the project.

Look out for the release of the video next month!

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A New Partnership Arises

The Building Community has joined our mission

The club will re-use discarded lumber and other scrap materials found at Dilmun Hill and in the Ithaca community in order to construct new chairs, tables, and shelving for a variety of uses upon the barn’s completion next fall. Building Community shares a commitment to environmental sustainability and community engagement through their building projects and public workshops throughout the year.

Members of the student organization Building Community visited Dilmun Hill this past Saturday in preparation for designing furniture and storage for the new barn.

One of our team architects, Sasson Rafailov (’18), took the club members around the farm. He showed them the site plan to situate where the new barn will be placed in relation to the existing surroundings.

The original vision sheet (pictured above) established Dilmun Hill as community center for sustainable agricultural practices. This foundational principle continues to be the driving force for both the Dilmun farm and the barn project team members.

Other work by the Building Community

Last semester the team constructed the Sukkah on the art quad for Cornell Hillel
Roof of the Sukkah
Tool library constructed by and for the Building Community

You can follow Building Community on facebook to stay updated on their progress:

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Interview with Betsy Leonard Organic Farm Coordinator of Dilmun Hill

As Organic Farm Coordinator, Betsy Leonard has had and continues to have an invaluable role in the prosperity and growth of the Dilmun Hill Farm. Dedicating 20 hours a week for over 6 years and an unquantifiable amount of care to the farm, Betsy is core to the evolution and success of Dilmun.

Back in October we got the chance to sit down with her and learn about the timeline of Dilmun from its founding in 1997 to today. Betsy’s comprehensive knowledge of Dilmun and the farm’s founding goal to encourage student engagement with organic agriculture shaped and inspired the way we designed the new barn.  

Could you tell us about yourself, how you got involved with Dilmun, and the role you play at Dilmun?

I had been employed by Cornell before I worked with Dilmun, and had done a lot of work with students. I really enjoyed doing that. This job came up, and I decided that I really enjoyed working with students and wanted to more of it. I started six years ago now, almost seven.

The job description looked really good–

I would be overseeing the students here, making sure that what they do is in line with Cornell’s goals. I would keep them safe, but also let them try new things [with agriculture] and let them make mistakes. Learning by doing. “

What’s changed or hasn’t changed at Dilmun throughout the 21 years of its existence?

The students have remained the same–we always get 4 or 5 students every year [to manage the farm], and their level of experience varies. We don’t only take people who have experience because we want people to learn a lot while they’re here. We pick students [to become managers] based on how well they would work together. We don’t really pay that much attention to experience.

Anyone can have a chance to learn, and decide that this [farming] is something they want to do with their life.

What’s changed a lot is the facilities. We have done a lot of different things over the years. We built the high tunnel, we fixed all the irrigation, and we extended the fence around the Market Garden. Glenn and Gene [from CUAES] helped with all of those projects. We got a Towards Sustainability grant to reorganize what we used to call the Tortilla Flats, now called the Market Garden. 

Since I’ve been here, people in the administration [CUAES] have been really supportive. We have Glenn Evans now, he started at the same time I did. He’s helped us a lot, particularly with  funding projects.

We’ve continued to have really good people come and help us like Gene Shopansky from Campus Area Farms. The supervisor before Jim Dodge was very supportive too. 

[In terms of agricultural practices] we’ve always been shooting for raised, more permanent beds. We’ve been trying to do less tillage, but sometimes it doesn’t work out because Dilmun Hill is organic and don’t use any herbicides. Eventually, we’re going to have to turn the soil over, and that’s true of a lot of organic systems.

The crops have remained about the same, except a few extra that certain managers are interested in.

Could you talk about what equipment and  tools that we have and use throughout the season? What new equipment could be helpful?

I think students want to turn beds themselves in the spring, so that they don’t have to wait for somebody else to do it. That’s why Melissa Madden [the previous coordinator] got the BCS/Rototiller for Dilmun. Then we got the rotary plow to make beds. We’ve gotten a couple push seeders, which are fairly new. We’ve also built the high tunnel, which is a really good season extension tool. That’s been one of our major changes. 

[For weed management] we mostly rely on hand tools and volunteers to help us with weeding. 

I think that we could use the BCS more by getting a power harrow attachment. It mixes the soil on the top 3 or 4 inches of the ground. I’m going to ask for one of those during the equipment request period. The power harrow would make a really nice seed bed without actually turning the soil all the way over. 

We would benefit from having a better washing station, and that’s going to be coming on Tuesday. I ordered a three-sink washing station, and we’ll try to put that in the new barn. They’re pretty standard sizes, and I think they should fit in wherever we want to put them .

I think we should look into getting a mouse-proof drying area [for crops like garlic].  A large working cooler would also be great. We need to work on storage. We don’t have a great place to put our potatoes, our garlic, or our squash. Anything that needs cool or dry requires a pest-free area. 

How does Dilmun work with classes & educational events? Why do you think so many classes come here?

We’re a working farm, a student farm. We’re close by. We have challenging soils.We have lots of insects. Entomology classes come here because we don’t spray. We have lots of beneficial insects as well. We’re an agricultural school, so everything that students learn about in class, they can see in action and practice here.

Although managers, the steering members, and myself are willing to give tours to the classes that come to Dilmun, we have classes and other work to do. Maybe in the future, if we have a full-time manager it [tour guiding] could be a role they can play. However, sometimes [classes] really want a student to give the tour because it’s more interesting to hear about the students’ experience with the farm.

We would rather that everyone be able to come here. That’s our policy, that everyone is welcome here.

How do you foresee agricultural practices at Dilmun changing? What are other small farmers doing that are new?

I see Dilmun, if we move up to the top of the hill [when we build the new barn], use the tractor more. There was some interest in having a community garden section of Dilmun. I find that interesting because that would engage the student community more. That would be fun. We could have speakers and workshops focused on what’s happening in the community garden. I hope that the high tunnel soil will be in great condition. 

We see a lot of small farmers have the same permanent beds every year. Cover crops are really important, for both small and large farmers. Recently, farmers have become more interested in soil health. In the 60s, people did a lot of cover crops, but that might been more because of federal programs. Right now, more dairies are putting in cover crops.

How does the current barn accommodate the current functions of Dilmun? What are the shortcomings?

I really think we need a space where people can get out of the sun/rain, when classes are here or managers are working. I think having an overhang would be really good in the new structure for people to gather. If we had a shelter, or even an overhang on concrete, with benches and picnic tables,  that would be nice. We could also have a bigger tool room, and a place for dry storage for garlic  and squash that is rodent-proof. We could also use a better washing station that complies with the GAP [Good Agricultural Practices] standards,  and somewhere to put our equipment and tractor. We would  also  benefit from an office: a place to keep our records and books so that they’re more accessible for people on the farm. Right now a lot of books are in my office, and people don’t even know they’re there.

How could a new barn accommodate the shifts in agricultural practices, new equipment, as well as you/your role with Dilmun?

I’d like to be on the farm if we had an office and the Internet. I could do work such as order things for the student managers here, and be able to engage with them more frequently.

I think it would be helpful to have the barn up on the hill as we try to put the flat land into production and use the tractor. We could have places for people to practice driving the tractor, and cultivating with the implements that we have. I think that the barn up on the hill would be a good meeting place for us. We could have more groups come because a lot of people ask if we have a place for them to sit and talk before their lab [for classes];  they could come here and do everything.


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NOW RECRUITING: Crowdfunding Ambassadors

April 10th marks the launch of our 30 day crowdfunding campaign

Starting on April 10th our team’s goal is to raise $7500. Our one-month long crowdfunding campaign will allow the broader community, Cornell faculty and students, and all those whose passions align with the Dilmun Hill principles, to have a monetary role in the  creation of our project. Cornell Crowdfunding is a platform that allows Cornell organizations to collect funds for their projects. They stand by the ideal of making big impacts through small projects, and all of the donations that we raise during our campaign will go directly towards the barn project.

We are Looking for  Crowdfunding Ambassadors to help lead the campaign

To help our campaign come to full fruition, we are recruiting Crowdfunding Ambassadors. This short term leadership role will allow for experience in community outreach and fundraising techniques. With more hands and hearts behind the mission, we can surpass our starting goal of $7500. Ambassadors serve a meaningful role in the overall mission by expanding outreach and keeping the team on track to achieving short-term monetary objectives and ultimately the long-term project completion.

Interested in finding out more about becoming a Crowdfunding Ambassador for the Dilmun Hill Barn Project?

Attend our information session this Wednesday March 7th at 4:30 in Mann 102.

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Spring Recruitment

Help us seize the potential for growth!

A new semester (and a new year) is upon us. In 2018, we plan to see Phase I of the barn’s structure take form and passive systems such as solar panels and a rainwater collection system become a reality.

The continuation of our research and preparations to break ground this summer demands the aid of anyone whose interests align with the Dilmun Hill Barn Project’s mission to build a barn that embodies the future of sustainable design and agriculture. This may include but is not limited to passionate: engineers, designers, architects, environmental scientists, and urban planners.

We are now recruiting students who have experience or are looking to expand their practice in passive systems design, marketing, and fundraising (reaching out to local companies and potential sponsors).

This semester we are planning to focus on research, design, and the integration of passive systems with Phases I and II of the project, while keeping our sights set on the long term goal of developing an education space in the barn. The diverse layers of our project allow for students of every major to have a meaningful impact.

Interested in getting involved? 

Email Alena Hutchinson (

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Formatting Designs for the Cornell Architects

Just before the end of the semester, we met with the CALS Facilities team at their office in Kennedy Hall. They gave our student architects a final design critique, and then showed us blueprints from previous CALS projects.

Our student architects are now working on reformatting the Dilmun Hill barn drawings to generate a drawing set that is up to the CALS architectural drawing standards, and we are excited to announce that we are only a few weeks away from submission!

Check out our new drawings:

The South exterior elevation

The North exterior elevation

Interior cross-sections

We got valuable feedback, particularly regarding the roof design, which we are modifying slightly to increase the potential for solar collection and cost efficiency.

We are on the home stretch! Our architects are now working on specifying building materials, doors, windows, hardware, roof materials, and finishes.

Construction is likely to begin early this summer!

Have a great new year!

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Project Spotlight: Placing an Emphasis on Sustainability.

Written by Oksana Bihun.

Being environmentally conscious and eating locally sourced foods appears to be growing in popularity among college students and workers alike. I grew up knowing the benefits of reusing materials, spending most of my summers in Ukraine in a small village where we grew much of what we ate; picking bugs off of potatoes and strawberries was my childhood calling. That’s why when this opportunity of working with a team dedicated to building Dilmun Hill a barn presented itself to me, I could hardly wait to combine my love of sustainable design with my interest in addressing food insecurity.


I was attracted to the idea of building a sustainable, net-zero energy structure that would serve as both a work space and educational area for Cornell students. Dilmun Hill contributes enormous amounts of resources to the Cornell community that relatively few people know about and I was excited to expand their capabilities. Upon starting my research for the project, however, I realized that despite going into my third year of environmental studies, there were still concepts that I knew relatively little about. What makes the design of a building “sustainable”? What qualifies a structure as being “net-zero energy”? If these concepts are so great for the environment, then why isn’t everyone implementing them into new designs?

Making a structure sustainable involves intricate design planning that has strict guidelines. Not only do builders have to be conscious of the ecological impact of the structure, it also involves thought on how it will contribute to the surrounding community and how it affects those working or living in the space. Site selection and design play crucial roles in deciding what the greenhouse gas emissions will be, what form of transportation people use to access it, and on the continuation of ecosystem services. Similarly, net-zero energy structures require much more than might be implied by the term. The most obvious, and most significant, part is that there is a need for a clean energy source that can constantly keep up with the building’s energy demands. The additional requirements that most overlook is the need for energy efficient systems, high quality levels for insulation and lighting, and with materials sourced according to specific guidelines.


So then why should we be pursuing such high, demanding standards? The answer lies in the fact that we aren’t just building another barn; instead, we’re designing a structure that will serve as a model for sustainable ecological farming practices that can serve as a reference for others. Our main focus is on integrating solar energy and a rainwater collection system into the barn. Our goal is to acquire enough solar panels so that the structure is entirely reliant on renewable energy rather than electricity from the Cornell grid. The rainwater collection system will be implemented to primarily wash produce collected from the farm.

It’s important to realize that these systems present many challenges in regards to cost and implementation. The energy needs of the barn will likely fluctuate, making it hard to estimate the number of solar panels needed. Also, the location of the barn will factor into how effecting the panels are at producing energy. In regards to the rainwater collection system, the quality of water required to clean produce is extremely high. The system will need extensive filtration and purification in order to clear out any potential pathogens.

Despite these challenges, we are determined to implement these sustainable systems and have plenty of resources to turn to. We are in contact with workers at the Cornell power plant in order to determine our best course of action in regards to renewable energy. We have been researching different solar farms to pull energy from as an alternative as well. There is extensive information about rainwater collection systems and plenty of studies to read about to figure out our best course of action. Another piece we’ve been reading about is biomimicry, specifically how some industries have been using these models to filter their water.


We’ve confronted these challenges early on and are eager to collaborate and find solutions that will work for our project. We’ve been following every lead that falls on our laps and are confident that this barn will come together to show the benefits and intricacies of sustainable design through the lens of agricultural farming practices.


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