Clemson University Student Farm

The Clemson University student farm was located in a valley right next to the college. It was great to see how another university that had a more developed farm worked.  They gave us a tour of the farm and talked about all the interesting things they were doing, like how they planted their crops at an angle to optimize runoff and sunlight capture and how they used ponds to catch water runoff from their barn roof, to reflect sunlight to their advantage, and to regulate the temperature in their hoop houses.

Listening to Prof. Zehnder and Shawn the farm manager about the slope of the beds for irrigation. Courtesy: Christina

The farm was very impressive in how they used intensive permaculture to make sure everything fit together in an integrated system so that everything was benefiting something else. Some of their upcoming projects are to use the farm as a teaching tool and the basis for an agriculture class. They are also working on a system that will compost all of the college’s food waste which they can turn into biofuel and animal feed. Their farm was a really inviting and nice place to be and it was a beautiful evening when we were there. This was a great place on the trip because we were able to see firsthand how people are changing our food system from big business agriculture back to a more sustainable, local, and healthy system.  We were also able to take things away from the visit that we can hopefully apply to our own growing student farm in Albion!

Inside the hoop house. Courtesy: Christina

State Museum

We traveled to the State Museum and the first eye-catching feature is the giant brick building, which isn’t your typical building for a museum. This is because the building was an old working mill and they kept the natural state of the building and some of the open features when they built the museum. This museum didn’t take long to catch your attention, as you enter the first exhibit a gigantic white shark is hanging above your head. Another eye catching feature was, you can see the first floor from the second with the very open floor plan making the flow of the museum better than tons of small rooms. This feature was the idea of and Albion alum  David Sennema who did a lot with designing the rooms. The museum really wanted to cater to kids and having interactive exhibits where kids can learn hands onrather than having to read or be lectured to.

Caitlyn frightened by dinosaurs taking over the world. Courtesy: Scott

Ken and James with a glyptodont. Courtesy: Christina

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach was our first stop of the trip. We met with Ranger Mike who took us for a walk around the state park and talked about some of its features. There were bodies of water that made up an estuarian system, and these are actively managed in order to increase species diversity where some of the lakes were freshwater, while the others were salt water.  This allowed a variety of different species to live here such as alligators and many birds. Ranger Mike also addressed their growing problem with the endangerment of sea turtles. In order to protect them, they are trying to reduce the fox population and restricting dogs to one area of the beach.   This reduces the amount of predators in the park that can harm the new sea turtle eggs. They also enclose active nests in large wire cages.  After walking through the forest, we went for a walk on the beach and got to hold cannon ball jellyfish that had washed up on the shore. One of the interesting things that we noticed along the coast was the effects of the salt spray from the ocean on the local flora. There were some trees that were completely bald of leaves on the side that was facing the ocean. Despite the rainy weather of this hike, it was informative and interesting to see the different kinds of environments that can be adjacent to each other and also simultaneously work together.

The Mellow Mushroom

On our field trips the school will be ever so kind and buy the group dinner. We had asked people that lived in the area about good places to eat in town and the consensus was to go to The Mellow Mushroom. With the restaurant being in a college town, it was very eccentric. There was a large tiger in the front lawn and the first floor ceilings were removed to be able to see furniture that was set up around the edges. Even the bathrooms were oddly decorated with graffiti and an Alice in Wonderland theme.  The pizzas that we ordered were all delicious and with this good food and unique atmosphere, we all had an enjoyable time chatting about the day’s events and catching up.

Seabrook Island and Pluff Mud

During our stay on Seabrook Island, we went on a hike through the maritime forest.  The forest is made from old sand dunes giving it an interesting topography and diversity of life.  There were different species of trees ranging from conifers to palm trees, and even Spanish Moss and Palmetto’s. Randomly, in the middle of the forest was a tight rope course which we all had to walk across even though it was just a few feet above a dry ditch. It was surprisingly challenging even though it was a pretty simple course.  However, everything is more complicated when someone is jumping on the other side to get you to fall off.

Sunil successfully walking across the tight rope course. Courtesy: Dr. Lincoln

Once we had all made it across, we continued our hike and reached the estuary where we walked in the water and enjoyed the beach. The final part of our hike involved walking a short distance back into the forest to find pluff mud. Pluff mud is a very fine grained mixture of organic materials, sands, and silts. Most of us decided to get into the mud and walk around. It seemed to be similar to quick sand by the way you would sink into it when you stepped in and tried to walk. Due to this suction, there were a few mishaps where people fell in or almost lost a shoe.

Sunil, Ken, Lauren, Hannah, Noelle, Heidi, and Mr. Green after playing in the pluff mud. Courtesy: Heidi

After getting covered in the pluff mud, we headed back to the estuary to rinse off, even though the water was pretty chilly. It was then time to head back to camp and start dinner, but we had one more adventure of seeing dolphins playing near the shore.