Binghamton University students got a look at just where the food they eat comes from during BU Acres’ Harvest Festival.
BU Acres, which aims to create a local, sustainable food source held its first annual Harvest Festival, located off Bunn Hill Road. The all-day event allowed students to tour the farm and volunteer in harvesting vegetables.
Students were taught how to pull the vegetables out of the ground and how to distribute compost throughout the garden.
“We know we can’t feed everyone on campus because there are too many students, but we want to raise awareness so people know where their food comes from,” said Jillian Shotwell, co-founder and student manager for BU Acres.
Student volunteers gathered at the farm and went to work. They used wheelbarrows to transport the compost into the garden and hoes to harvest the bush beans, kale, zucchini, carrots and beats.
“All of our compost is made of scraps from the dining halls,” said Shotwell, a senior double-majoring in environmental studies and geography. “We’re lucky to have Rich Herb, head chef of CIW Dining Hall, make the compost at his farm and then transport it here.”
Some of the students that volunteered had no previous experience with gardening and were interested to see how food was grown.
“My experience working here was very interesting,” said John Voigt, a freshman majoring in mathematics. “I got to learn about different aspects of the farm and see everything in action.”
The farm is two square acres and consists of a vegetable garden and orchard. However, the club hopes to expand in the future.
After the harvest, the student volunteers took a tour around the farm to see how the new sites were being built.
Sean Cummings, supervisor for the club, said the farm has the potential to span eight acres.
“We hope to include more fruit trees in our orchard and eventually plant a mushroom garden and another vegetable garden for the next season,” Cummings said.
Karen Ouyang, a junior majoring in mathematics, said she plans on changing her eating habits after harvesting her own vegetables and hopes to be more aware of ways to eat healthy.
“Harvesting the vegetables was challenging for me because I’ve never done it before,” Ouyang said. “We’re in a mindset that we can’t eat healthy because it’s too expensive, and I think what the club is doing is very beneficial to everyone.”
Other faculty members such as Joyce Kruger-Knuepfer, instructional support associate for the geological sciences and environmental studies department, said they were impressed with BU Acres’ work and the amount of vegetables harvested. She volunteered with the students and taught them about every type of vegetable being grown.
“Their harvest was very successful, and I think they’re doing a great job,” Kruger-Knuepfer said. “I like to reduce my carbon footprint and prefer to buy locally to support local farmers because they’re barely making it.”