Unity College has hired a specialist with more than 20 years of experience in horticulture, program development, and administration to fill a key post as farm and field station manager.
Christopher J. Bond will serve as manager at the McKay Farm & Research Station, a multi-faceted greenhouse operation in Thorndike, Maine, that was gifted to the college in December 2013. The facility serves as a direct extension of the 225-acre campus, providing Unity College students and the community with educational, research, and entrepreneurial opportunities in sustainable agricultural production and enterprise.
“McKay Farm gives students the opportunity to practice sustainable agriculture within a real, full-scale working farm, not a test farm,” Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury said. “The sustainable agriculture movement is important to Maine and the world, and we know Chris will give students an industry insider’s perspective of how the principles of sustainable agriculture work in the real world.”
“As an institution that has adopted sustainability science as our ethos, this farm is becoming not only a living educational lab for our students, but also an economic driver in the region, giving farmers a centralized location to showcase their work to the community,” Khoury said. “Places like McKay Farm are where local food comes from.”
College officials believe that Bond’s past work as a horticulturist and Farm Food Program coordinator at Case Western Reserve University will help advance the mission at McKay.
“His experience supervising budgets, volunteers, and student and staff employees will be put to use from the first day,” said Unity College Chief Sustainability Officer Jennifer deHart. “Chris has helped supplement the academic curriculum on organic farming, biocontrol, composting, and ecology, which will be a great asset to Unity’s programming.”
Bond managed U.S. Department of Agriculture trials for private industry and supervised greenhouse and field research involving undergraduate and graduate students. He also directed all horticultural aspects of the Case Western Reserve University Farm, a research and educational project of the Ohio school.
“I have enjoyed some success with enterprise management and with finding creative funding solutions,” Bond said, noting he had the distinction of managing one of Case Western Reserve University’s only successful programs not funded directly by the university.
Bond also started and hosted a radio talk show on sustainable agriculture, “Keeping it Green,” on 1330 AM WINT, and his insights on gardening issues have appeared in Ancient History magazine, Maximum Yield magazine, Hydrolife, Urban Farm Online, Garden Culture, and other publications.
“Chris has experience managing a revenue-generating operation, grants, in-kind and monetary gifts as well as sales of products and services. As someone with the depth of knowledge in horticulture, coupled with his management of partnerships with business and government, and his entrepreneurial financial savvy, we know Chris will be a key part of our strategy to position McKay Farm as a community asset for students, researchers, growers, buyers, and farmers in this exciting agricultural cluster,” Khoury said.
Under his leadership, the Farm Food Program at Case Western Reserve University Farm was named the No. 3 university farm program in the country by College Values Online. Bond also received the 2015 Case Western Reserve University President’s Award for Distinguished Service, and the Staff Educational Enhancement Fund Award for staff continuing education in 2014 and 2015. He accepted the 2011 Crain’s Cleveland Business Emerald Award on behalf of the college for work in sustainability at the facility.
DeHart said Bond will help position McKay Farm as a center for innovative projects and research where challenges faced by rural agricultural enterprises in New England will be addressed, including energy costs, compensation for agricultural workers, a challenging climate, and sparse population density.
“Chris has a wonderful blend of entrepreneurial thinking and hands-on management that will serve Unity College well as it brings the research and commercialization benefits of McKay Farm & Research Station to wider audience in our community,” deHart said.