Farm Stand!

30 Jul

[This is the third in a series of posts by Junzhou Liu, ’17 about her experience as garden manager for the student-run Smith Community Garden and intern for the Botanic Garden this summer.]

July 7th is a sunny Monday, and also my first farm stand day on campus. Since May, I have cared for the vegetables, herbs and fruits in the Smith Community Garden as they have grown and matured. I have been excitedly waiting to hold the farm stand and share my harvest with other people. Before actually picking the fresh produce at the garden this morning, I used to worry about not having enough for a two-hour farm stand. But then I lowered down my body and crawled under raspberry bushes to collect the reddish and good-looking fruits. I cut off onion leaves and mixed mustard leaves. I bowed down over the soil, and when I looked up to reach the green beans hidden under leaves and vines, I suddenly felt such a strong sense of appreciation deep in my heart. I praised the nature for their generosity and kindness of providing me all the harvests just like someone praising their gods.

I went to the Campus Center and got a big bright yellow paper to use as a poster for the farm stand. The CC staff also kindly provided me a table for displaying the produce. Placing out the labels with the prices that Kathy (from Dining Services) have helped me set, and arranging berries and beans in the lovely blue boxes, I felt like a real farmer-the people we see at Farmer’s Markets who usually collect fresh produce in the early morning, bring all the items to the market place, and are ready for selling by noon time.

To make sure that people get the most satisfactory and worthwhile produce, I carefully cut off all the withered or bug-bitten leaves. I also shook the dirt out of the roots so they are clean- though I left a little bit of the dirt as a sign that it’s organic and fresh.

Farm stand poster                 The poster I made for the first farm stand in the summer of 2014

farm stand         View of the farm stand in front of Chapin House, facing Chapin lawn.

It was a really windy day! My first challenge was to find a way to keep everything from blowing away. After struggling for several minutes, I figured out how to keep everything either on the table or on the ground. As you can see from the picture above, the first farm stand wasn’t perfect, and I worried that its untidy appearance would keep people from stopping as they walked by. Luckily, some of my friends came and supported me by buying my produce, and locals even went home to get money to buy berries. Some volunteers who came to my Friday afternoon working party also dropped by. I even had an interesting conversation with a Museum of Art staff member about the challenges of getting fresh food that people face in his home country of Morocco. Our conclusion? The potential for gardening- on roofs and in small spaces – is very real for anyone who is interested enough. Sure, there are challenges, large and small, but with a little creativity there is no reason more people can’t plant vegetables or herbs on roofs, in pots, or in place of grassy lawns. Join us in the Smith Community Garden and you might just gain the skills and confidence that will help you launch your first home garden when you are ready!

People really love the raspberries and red currants
– they are a treat to look at AND eat!

Onions with their blossoms.

Fresh picked Bok Choy.

-Junzhou is a rising sophomore and a potential biochemistry major and economics minor originally from Beijing, China. This academic year Junzhou is moving from Park House, where she spent her first year, to Hopkins House, where she hopes to continue to meet new people and enjoy making and eating food from different cultures with others.

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