The Compost – What Farmville sows, students have to reap

By SHORTNEY McFRYIN’

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With the popularity of Facebook’s addictive Farmville, students are now trading their virtual plows for real farming experience here on campus. As part of Allegheny’s Green Gator agenda, dorms will soon be transformed into agricultural communities.

Students are excited for the opportunity to become more self-sufficient as they learn to grow their own vegetables and provide their own produce in Allegheny’s own Farmville. Milking cows will be just one of many farm chores, rendering trips to Brooks and McKinley’s “udderly” useless.

Woody Greenthumb, ’11, is embracing the idea of getting closer to his meals.

“It will be nice to know where my food actually came from,” Greenthumb said.

To help each dorm with their initial farming endeavors, the school is providing livestock and fencing for each building as they establish their gated communes. Upper and lowerclassmen will work together to tend the farms as Ranch Advisors (RAs) assign tasks according to each hall’s ability.

In addition to animals, each dorm will be given planting seeds, a tractor, plows, weed pullers, mulch, fertilizer, a hefty supply of preen and a myriad of other farming materials.

Many students realize the advantages of the new agricultural community. Fresh produce and eye-pleasing gardens are just a few of the benefits they can expect.

Some students plan on using their animals for more than supper. April Showers, ’10, for example, is taking advantage of her white pinto horse for transportation.

“Carnegie is so far from North Village…it’ll be nice to just jump on Lightning and gallop down to class,” Showers said.

Others are not quite so optimistic about the new environment — particularly the new responsibilities. Now, in addition to homework, animals need to be fed and gardens need to be harvested.

Students who plant their vegetables on Brooks Lawn will be expected to reap every two hours, for fear of withering.

“Now I have to worry about comping and harvesting!” said Barry Picking, ’12.

Some students who come from urban areas are weary of all the farm equipment, such as city native Ivana B’Pampered, ’11.

“Aren’t these tools dangerous?” B’Pampered said. “I mean, I’m from Manhattan and I’ve never even seen a plow…and I don’t really feel comfortable sleeping next to my roommate’s pitchfork.”

Other naysayers include faculty members.

Professors voiced their concern over the “moos” that are bound to be heard in the middle of their lectures.  History professor Reggie Thornbush is especially bitter toward the farm animals.

“When I’m trying to teach my students about the genocide in Rwanda, I don’t want them to be distracted by a clucking chicken,” Thornbush said. “If a cow wanders into my classroom, I’ll make sure it ‘accidentally’ wanders onto North Main Street.”

The staff at the Winslow Health Center is likewise concerned with roving animals, especially loose pigs.

“The last thing we need is another swine flu outbreak,” said  nurse Iggy Shots.

Instead of collecting coins as on Facebook, students will gather printer points. Because of this change, some claim they won’t assist their neighbors with their farms as willingly as they would online, where only virtual money is at stake. Therefore, they will ignore requests to scare away crows from their neighbors’ crops or help fertilize their plants.  Manny Weeds is a senior with this competitive mindset.

Weeds explained that he will refuse to comply with any other farms’ requests in his pursuit of the prize.

“If a sad, lonely turtle or a black sheep end up on my farm, I don’t plan on helping it,” he said.

“We have our own farm to take care of — fertilize your own damn crops,” he said.

However many complaints there are, a great number of students are enthusiastic about the new farms. Environmental Studies majors are especially thrilled to tend their gardens and harvest their crops in between classes, including junior Sonny Fields.

“It’ll take away from homework time for sure, but I think once we see those strawberries start to ripen, it’ll all be worth it.”