Stacie Elfo, a senior psychology major, has an interesting home life: She lives on a goat farm. The farm is located in Hillsborough, N.J., and the Elfo family has operated it since 1924. The property itself dates back to the 1720s. An immigrant Dutch Family first owned it and currently the Elfo’s raise livestock, but in the past, it harvested crops such as corn, hay, and tomatoes. [caption id="attachment_22543" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Stacie Elfo pets one of her family's 50 goats on their farm. She grew up taking care of the goats, which she said taught her empathy for living beings and lead her to study Psychology and Social Work at Seton Hall University. Sarah Yenesel/Photography Editor[/caption] John Elfo, Stacie’s father, explained the history of the farm. He said that local historians have dated the farm and farmhouse itself back to the early 1700s. His grandparents purchased the farm after emigrating to the U.S. from Italy in the 1920s. “Over the years, the farm has raised cows, cattle, chickens, pigs, sheep, and now goats,” he said. “Previous crops have included hay, soy, beans, silage corn, and sweet corn. We currently do not crop.” Elfo explained that their goats perform a variety of functions on the farm. “Our goats are percentage boar – meaning they are meat goats. We raise them for breeding stock, pets/companions and consumption,” she said. “We also foster a stud service for others who may be looking to breed.” According to Elfo, Seton Hall students have volunteered on the farm, partnering with the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity. The first service trip was April 2017 and it has become a staple every semester since. [caption id="attachment_22571" align="aligncenter" width="838"] APO students after working on the Elfo farm. Photograph courtesy of Stacie Elfo[/caption] Volunteers are responsible for assisting the removal of brush and natural debris to create habitable living conditions for the animals and assist in the dividing of hay for approximately 50 goats. SHU students assist in the feeding and watering of the animals. Through this process, the students learn about what it means to raise animals and work directly with them. Much of this experience is service learning. DJ Schuck, a sophomore political science major, volunteered on the farm. “We walked into her backyard and were literally, within minutes, surrounded by a bunch of goats,” he said. “[The] experience showed me a different way of life. I really appreciated the fact that this is home for Stacie’s family, and it was awesome how highly they spoke of the goat farm and genuinely cared about every single goat.” Sarah McFarland, a sophomore biology major, volunteered with Shuck. She said part of the reason she helped was because she is from a small farm town. She said the experience reminded her of home. “Her family was very kind and opened their farm to us,” she said. “With everyone helping out we got the work done in a few hours when it would have taken her family alone a few days or weeks. It was a great experience that I hope more people are able to have.” John Elfo reiterated how much this farm means, not only to him but also to others. “I believe the farm continues to be a tangible example and representation of a place in time when life was much simpler,” he said. “To me, the farm is God, Country and Family all wrapped into one. I am humbled by the privilege to serve as its steward.” Claudia Emanuele can be reached at email@example.com.
Elfo farm teaches students lessons in service