Farming at Redlands

May Term Harvest

At the University of Redlands, fresh produce is only as far away as Brockton Avenue.

The Sustainable University of Redlands Farm (SURF) sits behind the Brockton Apartments, and includes a California Native Garden, a Zuni Waffle Garden, a composting system, 34 community plots and two produce fields. The two-acre spread, which has been at its current location for four years, is coordinated through the Office of Community Service Learning (CSL).

“Everything grown in the produce fields is sold to our campus kitchens,” Catie Wytychak, coordinator of outreach and sustainable gardening, said. “The kitchens also supply pre-consumed waste that we use in our compost to create fertilizer that is then used in our fields.”

According to Wytychak, the produce fields and Zuni Waffle Garden have 800 strawberry plants, 1,000 corn stalks, 800 bean vines, 100 squash plants, 25 pumpkins, 75 cucumber plants, 15 tomato plants and some cayenne peppers, Japanese eggplant, kale, chard, carrot, onion and radish plants.

“We have also planted alfalfa and clover throughout our fields to lay areas fallow, or to rest, so that the soil has time to rejuvenate,” she said. “The farm works to uphold the three principles of sustainability which are environmental stewardship, social equity and economic stability. The farm uses organic principles of crop rotation, companion planting and refrains from spaying chemicals. We also compost, use live chickens to produce nutrient rich manure and only use solar power.”

The 34 community plots are rented to anyone affiliated with the University, including students, faculty and staff, and alumni. Each 10’ by 20’ plot can be rented for $10 each semester or over the summer, and there are water sources, hoses and gardening tools for use. Fruits and vegetables can be grown for personal use, but many participants donate their crops.

“Last school year, 15 of the community plots were given to students completing their community service requirement,” Wytychak said. “Each student maintained their plot and donated all of their harvest to local non-profits who work to alleviate hunger and homelessness. The student gardeners participated in agriculture workshops and field trips to the nonprofits to see where their food was being used.”

The farm is also used as an outdoor classroom, with student Gardeners in Residence tending to its needs, elementary school children participating in harvests, and alumni enrolling in courses on urban gardening.

“These students, of all ages, have learned about sustainable agriculture in an experiential learning method,” Wytychak said.

For more information on SURF, contact Community Service Learning at 909-748-8288.

Posted: July 12, 2013
Written by: Catherine Garcia

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