Binghamton University students, faculty and staff alike now have the option to receive fresh produce on campus weekly through the Autumn Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farm Share.
A farm share is a program through which members of a community may purchase a share of a farm’s output to be received regularly in batches. According to Cindy Cowden, senior associate director of Campus Recreational Services, the CSA Farm Share at BU is done through the Catskill Cattle Company, a family farm in Deposit, New York that focuses on using modern agricultural practices.
This will be the program’s second semester at the University, having commenced during the summer semester. Cowden said the Healthy Campus Initiative worked with the Cornell Cooperative Extension, an educational agency operating from Cornell University that aims to promote agricultural sustainability among other ecological initiatives, to find a farm that would be willing to make campus their pickup location and provide a variety of options for share sizes, prices and contents.
“Our expectations for the first summer program were modest,” Cowden wrote in an email. “We were hoping for at least 10 participants, but wanted at least 30. We ended the summer session with over 50 total and almost half of the participants selected to also add on a weekly delivery of eggs, milk or meat.”
Some faculty and staff that were involved in the program during the summer said they have had positive experiences. Sharon O’Neill, director of Employee Recruitment Initiatives, wrote in an email that the convenient pickup location was very helpful.
“I’ve been a member of CSA in the past and really appreciate the convenience of having a [pickup] location on campus,” O’Neill wrote. “The wide selection of vegetables and seasonal fruit was always an enjoyable surprise at [pickup] time!”
Alexa Schmidt, an adjunct lecturer of health and wellness studies, spoke to the benefits of the CSA Farm Share for both students and the community.
“It’s a convenient way for students to access fresh produce,” Schmidt wrote in an email. “We are encouraging greater consumption of fruits and vegetables while supporting the local economy.”
The program will run on campus for eight weeks, from Sept. 12 to Oct. 31. Produce pickups will occur on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Parking Lot B, near the Peace Quad. The Autumn CSA Farm Share will also introduce a student-single option, which supplies students with fruits and vegetables that would be easier to use in a dorm setting. Other options include half-share or full-share portions of the farm share.
While no students were signed up for the summer, word is spreading to the student body. Amalia Sulk, an undeclared freshman, heard of the program in an environmental studies class and said she thinks it is a great way to get healthy local food. Alan Liang, a senior majoring in computer science, also said the program could promote healthy diets.
According to Cowden, the decision to continue CSA into the fall semester was to supplement those who were not enrolled in the summer semester.
“Toward the tail end of summer, we knew we wanted to continue the program to not only take advantage of the fall harvest, but to also offer easy and affordable access to fresh fruits and vegetables to students, who missed the summer program,” Cowden said.
Registration for the Autumn CSA Farm Share closes on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 3 p.m.