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Student farm making impact

Nothing beats home grown fruits and vegetables, and at the Loyola Farmers Market, home grown isn’t so far away after all. The Loyola Student Farm may be run solely by University students, but this vendor is bringing healthy and ecofriendly foods for everyone to enjoy.

The Loyola Student Farm, started last year as what Alexander Tuchman, the farm’s operations assistant, referred to as an “educational experience,” is now a fully functioning ecofriendly student-run farm.

“We wanted to provide more of a realistic model of how to run a farm. We had no credibility or assistance until we had a sustainable economic model ourselves,” Tuchman states. “We’re trying to provide a model of sustainable agriculture that works economically and naturally.”

The farm is run by Loyola students who have a passion for the environment but come from all different interest areas throughout the University. Each one is interested in getting out of the city for the summer and “connecting to earth and nature.” For three weeks out of the summer, the students take a break from their full-time farming and take a sustainable agriculture course. They study science in the classroom and are able to walk outside and practice their new skills. Tuchman describes the experience as “an opportunity that is great for learning.”

“A lot of the students working on the farm don’t have any experience farming; they are studying anything from philosophy, environmental science, journalism, to business,” says Tuchman. “They are kind of just thrown into the business and taught how to grow fruit and vegetables.”

In an effort to create person-to-person relationships, this vendor is making its first appearance at the Loyola Farmers Market, selling different types of veggies and homemade artisan breads.

“One stand will be selling bread, and the other selling vegetables. We made our own yeast culture and are growing our own wheat,” Tuchman proclaims. “We do really well with things like potatoes and beets. For some reason, the beets that come from our soil are so freaking delicious, they blow my mind.”

The farm grows a variety of more than 50 vegetables from common things like carrots and potatoes to more unheard of vegetables like mustard and broccoli rabe. The Loyola Student Farm believes in growing a wide variety of crops in case one crop fails in a season so that they are not  “just relying on that one crop to bring us economic success like other commercial farmers rely on.”

“The diversity of our crops is very important. As we rotate crops each year, they have different effects on the soil. We plant things that give a lot of things back to the soil,” Tuchman says.

The Loyola Student Farm is part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in which community members invest in the farm for a small monetary value in exchange for a box of fresh vegetables every week for the whole summer. Tuchman describes this business plan as “a rich food experience.”

“[The investors] live through your struggles and are happy when it rains. It gives people a different kind of attitude and connection to farming,” says Tuchman.

With veggies and breads on hand, the Loyola Student Farm is ready to sell to the Rogers Park community.

“I think magical experiences can happen when you are working on a farm and feeding people healthy food that they may not have tasted before,” concludes Tuchman. “These students get that experience to deeply connect with nature, and it’s gratifying to spread the knowledge of how we should be using the land we live on.”

The Loyola Farmers Market, located at the corner of Sheridan and Albion in the Rogers Park neighborhood, is open each Monday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. through fall. For more information on the market, please visit LUC.edu/farmersmarket.

  • By Tracy on 6.25.2012 at 12:13 pm

    It would be very smart if the food raised on the farm was somehow brought into the cafeteria’s at the school, making them more self sustaining.

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