Waterville’s Topher Farm expands and updates labyrinth activities
By William Crooks
Waterville’s certified organic Topher Farm, run by Christopher ‘Topher’ Maynard, is expanding, and updating its labyrinth activities this year. The Record spoke with Maynard to get the particulars.
“This is our third year doing the labyrinth,” Maynard began. Their labyrinths, unlike the more familiar corn maze concept, are of the “green manure” variety, he continued, and use sorghum. Sorghum is a cereal grain that is grown around the world for human consumption and grows to around eight feet in height.
The sorghum, and other crops like rye, are grown and then eventually plowed under, thereby sequestering many tons of carbon and nitrogen from the atmosphere. “We’re doing it on a two-year cycle,” Maynard explained. They just plowed their 2021 maze under this spring and confined 200 tons of carbon and 50 tons of nitrogen underground, which prevents these greenhouse gases from contributing to global warming. “We’re trying to be a sustainable operation,” he insisted.
Their 2022 maze is still available for use, which uses winter crops and wildflowers. “It’s a pollinator’s maze,” Maynard added. It is only two or three feet high, includes a variety of challenges, and requires between five and ten kilometers of walking, he continued. “Some people found it a bit much,” he admitted.
This year they have built four new smaller mazes, “that increase in difficulty,” he stated: a mini-maze for children and easy, medium, and hard mazes for adults. Maynard clarified that increases in difficulty mean, for instance, more dead ends. The maze paths are mown now, but the walls are still only three to four feet high. They will be at their full height come the end of August, he said, but are perfect currently for small children.