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Monday, April 15, 2024

UC Davis Student Farm hosts Farmstand grand opening

The Farmstand will be open every Monday this quarter

By ISABELLA KRZESNIAK campus@theaggie.org

 

The UC Davis Student Farm held its Farmstand grand opening on April 4 from 12 – 4 p.m. at Extension Center Drive. The farmer’s market-style event offered fresh produce, tea tastings, educational demonstrations and live music. The Farmstand will be open from 12 – 3 p.m. every Monday at the same location during school sessions.

The Farmstand is primarily organized by members of the Market Garden, an academic program under the Agricultural Sustainability Institute. It intends to foster community engagement and provide an educational experience for students, according to Emma Torbert, the Student Farm and Market Garden manager.

“Coming out of the pandemic, we really wanted to have more engagement with the community and to have more connection with the Student Farm,” Torbert said.

Earlier this school year, the Farmstand was limited to members of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, a subscription service that provides prepackaged produce to UC Davis students and faculty. This subscription program lacked community interaction, according to Kelly Weihrauch, a third-year environmental science major and a lead student farmer.

“It never felt that personal,” Weihrauch said. “It didn’t feel like I had a connection with the CSA members.”

Now, the Student Farm also offers produce to the public at the Farmstand, where shoppers can choose the items they want. Weihrauch said that this reduces food waste.

“A lot of the time, we would get emails saying, ‘I didn’t use all of my produce’ or ‘My fennel has been sitting here for weeks,’” Weihrauch said. “Now, people can pick what they want and leave what they want, so that way we can donate the rest of the produce […] or keep it for later use in our coolers.”

Much of the produce from the Student Farm is donated to programs like Fruit and Veggie Up! and Fresh Focus.

The transition from creating and selling prepackaged baskets to hosting a farmstand was a process of trial and error, according to Weihrauch.

“People weren’t used to coming and picking out their own produce,” Weihrauch said.

Sarai Acosta, a lead student farmer and second-year graduate student studying international agricultural development, helped organize the tea tasting table at the Farmstand grand opening. Acosta, who has studied international trade policy, believes buying local produce has far-reaching benefits. 

“In Central America, there are a lot of studies around people not being able to eat the corn that they grow themselves,” Acosta said. “They have to buy imported corn from the United States. So, by diversifying your diet and being OK with changing what you eat based on the season, you ironically end up helping people from all over the world.” 

Mateo Alliende, a third-year environmental policy major and a lead student farmer, tabled for the grand opening at the Memorial Union. The Student Farm teaches the community about sustainable agriculture through hands-on experience, according to Alliende.

“How to do agriculture in a sustainable and community-based way is [a] really cool goal to have, and it’s a big part of the UC Davis experience,” Alliende said.

Weihrauch hopes that the event raised awareness about the farm.

“[The farm] is tucked away in this tiny little corner of campus,” Weihrauch said. “We want to bring people to the student farm and show them how much there is to enjoy with fresh produce.”

Written by: Isabella Krzesniak — campus@theaggie.org

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