The Student Farm loves partnering with campus dining to provide local produce for students on campus. This year, we began a new partnership with Market Pollock to help produce fresh produce in an Urban Cultivator. The Urban Cultivator is a self-contained indoor growing system that can grow up to 16 trays of microgreens at a time. Student urban farmers from Student Farm Club work with managing chef David Anderson to grow kale microgreens throughout the year. The microgreens are served every day right there in Market Pollock, on the open-face avocado sandwich.

As a way of decreasing our carbon footprint, growing produce locally also creates opportunities for students to work as urban farmers in sustainable agriculture. This partnership not only highlights the importance of sustainable food systems but also gives students a chance to learn just how much work goes into the production of food crops. It is also a very efficient way of growing fresh greens year-round, even through the cold winter months, in an area the size of a refrigerator!

Currently, Student Farm has two urban farmers who work with campus dining to grow microgreens for students who eat in dining halls every day. 

Urban farmer Sarah Bett said: “I chose to work on the urban cultivator because I wanted to gain experience working with sustainable agriculture in a compact environment. The Student Farm has a hydroponics greenhouse that sells produce to the dining commons on campus, but the urban cultivator is a great way to bring sustainable agriculture into the public view of the everyday consumers of those goods by putting it in the market itself. I love being able to harvest right there in Market Pollock, and bring to light the full circle of where the consumer’s produce can originate – especially the importance of it being local, sustainable produce.”

Urban farmer Grace McVay said, “I became involved with the Student Farm’s hydroponic greenhouse last fall in order to learn more about how hydroponics systems operate, and gain experience working in one. Through that, I was given the opportunity to help operate Pollock’s Urban Cultivator for the spring semester. It’s a great way for students to be able to have fresh, healthy, and local produce for their meals, all while being able to see the seeding, growing, and harvesting occur twenty feet from the kitchen.”   

We hope that the Urban Cultivator model continues to expand, providing students with fresh, whole foods that are produced right on campus. As we are increasingly becoming more aware of where our food originates, we hope that it also educates students in dining halls to think more in-depth about sustainable food systems and where our food comes from. 

And if you’re in the area, go check it out, and try out the open-faced avocado sandwich at Market Pollock!