Dilmun Hill is Cornell University’s student-run organic farm.
Over the past decade, Dilmun Hill has grown to become a productive farm and a vibrant educational and research space for students and faculty.
Dilmun Hill’s transformation has been facilitated by the hard work and dedication of its summer farm managers, steering committee, and faculty advisors.
Our journey towards becoming an integral part of a sustainable Cornell food system has been an exciting and challenging one:
In 2013, the Dilmun Hill market garden was recontoured to better facilitate sustainable land management practices, primarily related to water conservation. The recontouring allowed us to capture water in our vegetable beds that would otherwise run off of the hillside. Recontouring was made possible by Cornell’s Towards Sustainability Foundation grant program.
In the spring of 2014, a student-led initiative to expand the deer fence to enclose the area behind the historic Dilmun Hill barn was completed. The expanded deer fence allowed us to reclaim the Pioneer Beds, one of the original vegetable plots at Dilmun Hill.
Organic beekeeping also began at Dilmun Hill, managed by the Cornell Bee Club.
In 2015, the team of summer farm managers restarted Dilmun Hill’s CSA. The CSA was incredibly successful, and has grown to become one of the highlights of the summer farm manager position. With the help of Cornell Farm Services, the Pioneer Beds were expanded to support the increased vegetable production.
During the summer of 2015, a student-designed water tower was built in front of the historic barn to collect rainwater from the roof to water transplant seedlings.
In 2016, the CSA was expanded to 91 shares. Dilmun Hill also began focusing on campus food security and accessibility, and began to offer volunteer shares, where students could work for four hours each week at the farm in exchange for a CSA. In addition, the CSA itself was offered on a sliding scale, meaning that members could choose to pay what they could afford.
A student-designed high tunnel was also constructed on top of the hill as a research project, again funded by Cornell’s Towards Sustainability Foundation. The high tunnel not only allowed Dilmun Hill to expand their growing season, but also allowed us to research remediation methods on the contaminated portion of our land.
Our research, which focused on remediating the lead-arsenate contamination through dilution with Cornell compost, was highly successful, allowing us to continue exploring remediation solutions for the site.
In the fall of 2017, a student-led initiative to renovate the irrigation system on top of the hill was completed with the help of Cornell Farm Services.
The organic beekeeping at Dilmun Hill also continued to expand.
Anabel’s Grocery, a student-run grocery store with a mission to improve campus food security, was also opened. Dilmun Hill has been collaborating with Anabel’s to offer produce to students at affordable prices and host educational workshops on nutrition, cooking, and food preservation.
A new tractor was purchased for student production and research through a grant from Cornell’s Towards Sustainability Foundation, supplemented with additional funds from the Cornell Agricultural Experiment Station. The tractor was used to explore remediation techniques, allowed us to expand vegetable production to the top of the hill, and provide valuable hands-on experience for students.
In the spring of 2017, the Dilmun Hill Barn Project was started by a small group of undergraduate students from across Cornell’s colleges.
Since its conception, our team has expanded to include masters students, a strong network of faculty advisors, and received official endorsement from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
A new barn on top of the hill will allow Dilmun Hill to unlock the potential of the rest of the land that is part of our site for education, research, and production.
Our vision for the future includes expanding our mechanized production space and high tunnel production, in addition to planting a berry and small fruits orchard on our southern hillside.
This expansion, facilitated by the new barn, will allow Dilmun to offer more diverse research and educational opportunities to both students and faculty. We will be able to increase the number of students on our summer farm manager team, and offer food security to a larger portion of the Cornell community.
We are excited to see what our future holds, and hope that you will support us in our endeavor.