Last year, as a freshman, I had no idea what the Furman Farm was. I had no idea it existed, let alone that some of the food I was eating in the Dining Hall was grown right on campus. Up until this year, admissions tours skipped right over the farm and barely even mentioned it. It wasn’t until I went to work on the farm for extra credit that I learned what it was all about.
The Furman Farm is a ¼ acre garden that grows a wide variety of produce throughout the year. Most of the produce is sold to Bon Appetit, the caterers for the dining hall, or it is sold through Community Supported Agriculture. The farm is completely organic and uses sustainable practices to grow the produce. We use natural pesticides and integrated pest management to control pests on the farm. Food waste from the dining hall is composted in order to provide plentiful nutrients for the plants to grow. These various techniques that we use make the food all natural while also being sustainable, but most people are unaware that these practices are even taking place.
I remember that extra-credit day clearly. I showed up for two hours to work. I helped turn the compost, which we then used while planting tomatoes. These may seem like simple tasks, but I wanted to make sure they were done right. I went back to the farm a few weeks later to check out the tomatoes and see if they had grown any and sure enough they had! I loved the idea that I might one day eat those very same tomatoes that I had planted for extra credit. Now, as the assistant student farm manager, when we fulfill orders for the dining hall I look for the potential produce that came from the farm and make sure I try some because I know how amazing it will taste. It’s hard to imagine that one year ago, I had absolutely no idea where my food came from.
A couple of weeks ago I got an email from a fellow student. The student was working on a group project for a communications class. The task was to solve a miscommunication or lack of information on campus and the group chose the Furman Farm. The students felt that the farm was such a cool aspect of Furman, but no one really knows about it. We are trying to change that starting with this Friday, November 10, with a table outside of the library from 11:30-1:30 to educate students about the sustainable practices we use at the farm and how students can get involved with the farm. We are excited to showcase our hard work and we hope to see you there!