Shears in hand, volunteers at the UW Farm took to the fields Sunday to prune parsley, harvest chard, and collect dill. The harvest celebrated the farm gaining approval to sell its produce to UW Housing & Food Services (HFS).
HFS finalized the decision last week after the UW Farm set up its charge account. Rae Moore, the coordinator of the farm’s Center for Urban Horticulture, said students could see UW Farm produce used by HFS in as little as two weeks. The total sales over a year are expected to amount to only about 1 to 1.5 percent of HFS’ $600,000 produce budget.
Nonetheless, this marks a milestone for the UW Farm’s volunteers.
“When I started helping out at the farm three years ago, a group of students were meeting every week at 7:30 a.m. to talk about how the farm could expand and reach more students,” said Julia Reed, the coordinator of the farm’s Botany Greenhouse. “It was a far-off dream at the time, and now it’s really happening, which feels so great.”
Although Moore said there is still paperwork the UW Farm needs to complete before the change is finalized, HFS members still share the excitement of the UW Farm volunteers.
HFS Executive Chef Gabe Kinney said the collaboration is an opportunity for HFS to use hyper-local, seasonal products that showcase the farmers who grow them.
“The minute you start picking [food], you lose flavor,” he said.
Kinney added that HFS hasn’t ordered any specific vegetables from the farm.
“They’re farmers,” he said. “They know what’s going to grow best for them and what’s going to give them a good yield. We’re leaving it open-ended so that they can come to us and say, ‘This is what we’re going to have harvesting this week.’”
HFS will use this policy to create entrees that highlight the best features of the Farm’s produce. There will also be a section located in the District Market, which opens in August, dedicated to the Farm’s products.
UW Farm volunteers see this change as a step toward community development and thoughtful food consumption.
“I like the idea of UW students raising vegetables for UW students to consume via HFS,” said Douglas Ewing, manager of the farm’s Botany Greenhouse. “This is, to me, the only option for the farm aside from donating to food banks.”
Reed said one of the farm’s goals is to get students to think critically about how food systems work and what goes into the food they eat.
“The first step in inspiring people to think about food on a larger scale is to feed them great food,” she said. “So that’s what we’re trying to do for students at UW.”
Reach contributing reporter Sohrab Andaz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @Sandaz9193
Please read our Comment policy.