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‘Farm-To-Fork Freshness’: An Inside Look At Penn State’s Student Farm

The Dr. Keiko Miwa Ross Student Farm is one of the most unique environments offered at Penn State.

The beautiful 4-acre vegetable farm is located off Big Hollow Road and is dedicated to facilitating engagement in sustainable food and agricultural systems. The Student Farm is organized and run by the Student Farm Club with the goal to help incorporate Penn State students into the agricultural community.

There are various internship and volunteer opportunities available for those who are interested. Student interns and volunteers are taught how to grow and cut flowers, vegetables, and herbs, as well as dye crops.

The Student Farm Club uses the Ross Student Farm to incorporate more members of the Penn State community into its mission, regardless of major or experience.

While a majority of the club’s focus is on the Student Farm, the members also take on projects such as cooking collaborations, hydroponics, plant sales, fresh produce markets, and much more.

William McCausland is a senior in the Student Farm Club, serves in a leadership role, and appreciates that he’s gotten involved with sustainable food systems as an undergrad. McCausland mentioned that anyone is encouraged to get involved, with or without prior experience.

“It is a very welcoming social space meant to help curious students become more comfortable with topics surrounding sustainability and agriculture,” McCausland said.

McCausland said that the club facilitates many social events to focus on a specific area of interest or to broaden the club’s scope of influence.

One of the Student Farm Club’s student-led initiatives is “Cooking Collaboratives,” which is led by Meddelin Setiawan.

“The cooking collab project team holds sessions that are open to students and the State College community to practice collaborative cooking and thus share their passions for healthy, creative, and delicious food,” Setiawan said.

The sessions are held at the Student Farm until the valley weather no longer permits. Then, the cooking sessions move indoors to Abba Java Coffee House located in downtown State College.

“It is an advocate for sustainable cooking while also eager on introducing various cuisines from around the world,” Setiawan said.

These collaborative cooking efforts began as a way to encourage students to cook with fresh ingredients and practice healthy living. A typical layout of a session is a short learning example, followed by cooking together, then closing with dinner.

Not only is the fresh produce from the farm offered in cooking classes, but Penn State’s dining halls incorporate “farm-to-fork freshness” into its meals as well.

By keeping an eye on the Student Farm social media, Penn State students can see which dining halls are serving meals that include ingredients from the farm.

For those looking to get involved, visit the Student Farm Club website.

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About the Author

Camryn O'Rourke

Camryn is a second-year majoring in digital/print journalism. She is also known as "Cami". She spends her summers at the Jersey Shore and is an avid poet. You can reach her on Twitter @Camryn_ORourkee, or by visiting her website: camio1414.wixsite.com/camrynorourke.

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