As preparation for our January trip to Peru, our class has been visiting a large property a few miles off campus owned by McDaniel College. Below, Jimmy, Lucy, GW, Cris, and Jason share what they found.
It is the dream of many colleges and universities to be able to own a farm. Some colleges, such as Warren Wilson College and UC Santa Cruz, take advantage of the opportunities a farm can bring to its students. McDaniel College has the potential to bring similar opportunities to McDaniel. It is simply a question of funds, priorities, and the will to chance that which we can change.
The Potential Opportunities of College Farms
For Warren Wilson College, the farm is an integral part of the college’s education, acting as a way to merge college education with the “real world.” In UC Santa Cruz’s farm, the main focus is the education of the community, with agricultural programs that that assist elementary school in building their garden-based science and nutrition curricula.
McDaniel College’s farm has the potential to be used profitably in benefit to the education of its student body as well as the college itself.
Dwelling upon the history of the farm, we will explore the different ways in which the farm has been beneficial – or not – to previous owners.
The Singletons and the Mathews
Dr. Charles Singleton may not have come from money or fame, but that didn’t stop him from acquiring both during his lifetime.
He was a highly honored scholar, earning his Ph. D. from the University of California, Berkley, in 1936. His passion for the Italian language was born during college. Ultimately this led him to his most famous works, his translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, which consisted of six volumes to include his own commentary.
It was also during his time in Italy where he married his wife, Eula Duke. Although he loved Italy, he couldn’t stay away from the U.S. forever, especially after the offer Johns Hopkins University made him.
It was during this endeavor when he found the farm. It was a perfect fit. He bought the farm in 1941 from a realtor named Ted Case. Its value was a mere $1200, which gave them a $100 a year mortgage with 6% interest.
He ended up leaving Italy with two loves – his wife, Eula, and wine. He had always had an affinity for wine, but his passion deepened while in Italy. By the time he moved to what we now call Singleton-Mathews farm, he had become somewhat of a wine connoisseur. His love of wine was so great that he used 2 ½ acres of the farmland to grow his own grapes. It was a labor of love that took 11 years of planting before he moved into production.
Charles was the owner of the second winery to open in Maryland; He named it “Caroli Winery”. He held a fall harvest festival every year, during which he would invite friends and family to come and help harvest and barrel the wine. By the time he died in 1985, he had purchased the surrounding land, giving him a total of 68 acres.
Upon his death, he gave two-thirds of the land to Johns Hopkins University, where he spent the majority of his career, and a third to his sister-in-law Marthiel Mathews. Marthiel gave her third of the land to McDaniel College when she died in 1987.
Charles loved the country and the salvation that the outdoors could provide. He understood the value that the serenity of such a place could provide. It was for this reason that in his will he requested that “the land retained for agricultural uses, conservation, and a ‘retreat’ by the university”.
As stated previously, after Mrs. Mathews died in 1987, she requested her estate to be left to McDaniel College. The remaining land was given to Johns Hopkins University. However, the distance between the farm and Baltimore made it difficult for Hopkins to take full advantage of the land.
Johns Hopkins, unlike McDaniel College, had much more resources to work on the farm. If the farm were closer to Baltimore or if the farm had a higher priority, Johns Hopkins could have continued with the winery project as much as it could have develop areas dedicated to the conservation of the natural environment surrounding the farm. However, none of these were true.
However, in 1988, Johns Hopkins sold their land to McDaniel College for $260,000. Dr. Singleton and Mrs. Mathews were determined to use the land as a retreat for the students and faculty of Western Maryland.
The future of the farm
Through the decades, the Singleton-Mathews Farm has experienced many changes. If McDaniel is to take advantage of the opportunities this farm offers, the administration must revisit and learn from the past, keeping in mind Singleton’s and Mathews’s vision: the farm is a place for agricultural use, conservation, and the retreat of urban life for the college.
Jimmy Calderon, ’17. McDaniel Student. Spanish Major. Main editor.
Lucy Benson, ’17. McDaniel Student. Spanish and History Double Major. Historian and writing editor.
GW Schwab, ’16. McDaniel Student. Environmental Biology Major. Historian and writing editor.
Cristina S. Juarez, ’17. McDaniel Student. Environmental Studies and Art History Double Major. Photographer and video editor.
Jason Swartz, ’18. McDaniel Student. Environmental Studies. Photographer and photography editor.
Grier, George A. Singleton Farm. Western Maryland College. 14 Oct. 1989. Print.
“The 20 Best College Farms.” Best College Reviews. Best College Reviews. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.