Purdue Student Farm Sees Record Yields, To Bring Produce To The Public

(WEST LAFAYETTE) – The Purdue Student Farm has started selling to the public. This service will run into the fall until a date to be determined. Customers will be able to pick up a box of seasonal vegetables grown at the farm once a week for $25.

Pickups will begin at the student farm, located at 1491 Cherry Lane, West each Friday from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. The farm is unable to accept credit cards at this point, so payments must be made using cash or check.

Chris Adair, student farm manager, said the service is modeled after Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) systems, but without the initial buy-in and the ability to purchase on a week-by-week basis.

This is some of the fresh produce coming out of the Purdue Student Farm. Customers will be able to pick up a box of seasonal vegetables grown at the farm once a week for $25. (Purdue University photo/Tom Campbell)

This is the first year, he said, that the farm is operating at full capacity. With demand from on-campus dining down due to COVID-19, he said organizers are looking for other ways to provide the community with fresh, locally grown produce.

“CSAs and similar services have seen their ups and downs in terms of demand, but I do think COVID-19 has made people more conscious about where their food is coming from,” Adair said. “Purchasing directly from your local farmers means you have less of a chance to encounter people, and there is no middleman.”

“The pandemic reminds us how important communities are, and local foods are an important part of a vibrant community,” said Stephen Hallett, horticulture and landscape architecture professor and advisor to the student farm.

Operating at full capacity also means this has been the farm’s most productive season to date.  The farm grows eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes, greens, ginger, cabbage, fennel, okra, a variety of herbs and more.

“Customers can expect a wide variety of seasonal produce,” Adair said. “Right now, we have a lot of tomatoes and onions and even some kale from the spring growing season. Soon, we’ll be planting squashes that can be harvested later in the season. We also have a high tunnel full of ginger, turmeric and lemongrass.”

Adair said the farm will continue to supply the dining courts on campus as they have in the past. However, with only three courts opening in the fall, he anticipates a lower demand. General interest in the farm has grown, however, with more professors showing interest in taking their students to observe the operation.

“Classes that wouldn’t normally plan a visit are going to come out here this fall, which will raise awareness about the farm and what we do,” Adair said. “It’s outside, easy to social distance and technically on campus, a good way to get kids into the field while still being safe.”

Writer: Emma Ea Ambrose, 765-494-2406, eeambros@purdue.edu