Initially, going into my first ever Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip as a senior, I was a little nervous. But looking back at it now, I am so glad that I went and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Not only was my group amazing, but the experience was incredible. My trip was to Gita Nagari Eco-Farm in Port Royal, Pennsylvania. It is the only USDA approved no-kill dairy farm in the United States. The eco-farm’s values focus on the idea of compassionate farming and treating all of their animals with purpose and care.
As pictured above, we got to cuddle the cows. Gita has about eighty of these amazing creatures. At first, several of us were a little intimidated by these 2,000-2,500 pound dogs with horns, but they are so gentle and so comfy! While at the trip we also had the chance to milk their twenty-one milking cows, which was an amazing experience too! Even though I couldn’t enjoy the fresh cheese or milk from these animals, due to my lactose allergy, I was told it was amazing and that I definitely missed out.
Not only did we get to cuddle cows, but we got to hold bees, hundreds of them! The farm had over 50,000 bees. Now, normally I would be terrified to be near one bee, let alone thousands, but I didn’t have to be afraid with these ones on this farm.
In addition to a little apiary work (bee keeping), and some cow dedication, we also got to get our hands dirty. We did some seed planting, trash clean up, and forest walks. We also swept and wheelbarrowed out an old barn that Gita is hoping to change into a yoga studio (how cool would that be?!). We also helped put together a greenhouse for the farm. With many hands, it makes light work. Additionally, we got to repaint the milking room and gave it a nice fresh coat of white paint, which I thought was fitting considering milk is white. After we showed so much interest in the bees, we also got to paint our own bee boxes! Let’s just say, I am not the neatest painter in the world, but it was fun so that is all that matters.
This trip really opened my eyes to where my food comes from and the background of the products I use every day. Throughout the week, we broke off into groups to make products to benefit the farm, as well as (if given endless possibilities) we would use to change the world in terms of the environment. A common thread of this farm was this little phrase, “You consult a doctor when you are sick, a lawyer when you are in trouble, yet you consult a farmer three times a day.” It was really eye opening.
So, if you are thinking about going on an ASB trip and stepping out of your comfort zone, I say DO IT. I say, step out of your comfort zone whether you are a new student at Plymouth State or about to graduate in a few months. Put yourself out there, otherwise you will miss out on an incredible experience. Also, who wouldn’t love to cuddle cows for an hour a day, while ending some days by a nice cozy fire with some of your new best friends?
For more information on this farm you can go online to gnecofarm.org, and if you want to know more about my trip, check out a video I made about the trip below!
Gita Nagari Trip
Riley Drew ’20 is an Elementary Education major with a double minor in Math Education K-8 and Child Welfare and Family Studies. On campus, Riley serves as a building manager of the Hartman Union Building, a fellow for the calling department in Admissions, treasurer of the Class of 2020, Student Senate class representative, and secretary of Best Buddies. Her hobbies include teaching, listening to music, cooking, and taking photos/videos.