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Purdue Student Farm sees record yields, brings produce to the public

The Purdue Student Farm has started selling to the public. This service will run into the fall, until a date to be determined. Customers will be able to pick up a box of seasonal vegetables grown at the farm once a week for $25. Pickups will begin at the student farm, located at 1491 Cherry Ln., West Lafayette, beginning on Aug. 7 from 4 – 6 p.m. The farm is unable to accept credit cards at this point so payments must be made using cash or check.

Chris Adair, student farm manager, said the service is modeled after Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) systems, but without the initial buy-in and the ability to purchase on a week-by-week basis. This is the first year, he added, the farm is operating at full capacity and, with demand from on-campus dining down due to COVID-19, Adair said they are looking for other ways to provide the community with fresh, locally grown produce.

“Right now, we have a lot of tomatoes and onions and even some kale from the spring growing season. Soon, we’ll be planting squashes that can be harvested later in the season. We also have a high tunnel full of ginger, turmeric and lemon grass.”

“CSAs and similar services have seen their ups and downs in terms of demand, but I do think COVID-19 has made people more conscious about where their food is coming from,” Adair continued. “Purchasing directly from your local farmers means you have less of a chance to encounter people and there is no middle man.”

“The pandemic reminds us how important communities are, and local foods are an important part of a vibrant community,” Stephen Hallett, horticulture and landscape architecture professor and advisor to the student farm, added.

Operating at full capacity also means this has been the farm’s most productive season to date.  The farm grows eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes, greens, ginger, cabbage, fennel, okra, a variety of herbs and more.

Alfonso Rosselli, a senior from San Juan, Puerto Rico and Grace Moore, a junior from Seymour, IN are majoring in sustainable food and farming systems and work at the farm.
Alfonso Rosselli, a senior from San Juan, Puerto Rico and Grace Moore, a junior from Seymour, IN are majoring in sustainable food and farming systems and work at the farm

“Customers can expect a wide variety of seasonal produce,” Adair said. “Right now, we have a lot of tomatoes and onions and even some kale from the spring growing season. Soon, we’ll be planting squashes that can be harvested later in the season. We also have a high tunnel full of ginger, turmeric and lemon grass.”

Adair said the farm will continue to supply the dining halls on campus as they have in the past, but with only three halls opening in the fall he anticipates a lower demand. General interest in the farm has grown, however, with more professors showing interest in taking their students to observe the operation.

“Classes that wouldn’t normally plan a visit are going to come out here this fall, which will raise awareness about the farm and what we do,” Adair continued. “It’s outside, easy to social distance and technically on-campus, a good way to get kids into the field while still being safe.”

Produce can be ordered here: https://www.hoosierfoodmarket.com/shops#/#purdue-student-farm.

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