When I was first asked to be the assistant manager at the Furman Farm, I was honestly a little bit nervous. I had worked as an intern on a farm last summer and gone on the Slow Food: Italy May X. However, I knew that managing a farm would be a little different. Besides the actual farming and gardening, there are many other aspects to managing a farm.
Firstly, at the Furman Farm, we have a CSA program. CSA stands for community supported agriculture. As a member of the CSA program, you would purchase a share which entitles you to a overflowing grocery bag of farm fresh produce once a week. Here, we offer members a selection of pick up between Tuesday and Thursday. As I’ve learned from working on the Furman Farm, the CSA has a very significant impact on the Furman community and the community surrounding campus. Many students, professors, and other members of the community are interested in sustainable, organic agriculture, but do not have the time to garden for themselves or their families. By buying a share of the CSA, members are involved in agriculture and supporting this type of agriculture, without actually having to take time out of their lives to grow their own food. Additionally, for the farmers, it gives them a guaranteed profit and a way to estimate how much to plant, grow, and harvest. Over the past few weeks, it has been exciting to watch what is in the CSA bag each week change and grow. Every week, the customers are always super excited about the produce in their bags, which is a good feeling for all of us that work on the Furman Farm.
Along with the CSA, we have implemented our farm stand every week day from 3:30-5:30. This gives people who may just be passing by an opportunity to buy produce or plants and ask questions about the farm. We have also had many people who have bought produce and have love the quality and taste so much that they have come back and signed up for a CSA share. The farm stand has also been popular with those who want to pick up produce after work to cook for dinner that night. As we are located on Furman’s campus, right next to the Shi Center, we often have students and professors coming by the farm on their way home from class or work to grab a squash or some lettuce to eat that night. For these people, convenience is key and it is nice that we are able to offer that to them.
In the actual garden, we have done a lot this summer already and have many plans for the rest of the summer. We have just finished pulling up a lot of our spring crops, such as lettuce, collards, broccoli, and snap peas, and planting/nourishing summer crops, such as sweet potatoes and cantaloupes. As the summer crops begin to grow, our CSA bags have become heavier. For example, we’ve added zucchini, squash, and potatoes to the bags this week. Corn is sprouting from the ground and beneath the leaves of the tomatoes plants, round, plump green tomatoes are starting to grow.
Speaking of tomatoes, one of the customer favorites, the Furman Farm has several rows of tomatoes and has discovered a new technique to help them grow. We have caged the tomatoes next to a trellis, which is about 8 inches off the ground. This has allowed us to put compost and nutrients at the base of the plant, but also allows the tomatoes to be supported within the cage.
I am excited to see what other ways we can discover to help our crops grow this summer. The possibilities are creative and endless!