Sustainable Student Farm provides fresh produce to Illinois campus
October 14, 2017
Boxes of apples, peppers, radishes and other produce are lined up weekly in the Sustainable Student Farm (SSF) stand on the Main Quad for students and community members to buy.
This is the eighth year since SSF brought its organic products right to the front of Illini Union. This year, the farmers stand started at the end of May, operates every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is approaching its last sale on Oct. 26.
Gabrielle Friedhoff, student worker of SSF and senior in pre-nursing, said the farmers stand is a great way for SSF to interact with the local community.
“The purpose of the stand is so we can put a face to the name of Sustainable Student Farm,” Friedhoff said, “(Through the stand,) a lot of students know about it and they know us.”
Students could buy the products either by weight or by individual produce. Friedhoff said a lot of students would stop by and grab a snack between classes, and many students living in dorms would purchase products from the stand so they can cook their own food.
“It provides an alternative to some other choices on campus,” Friedhoff said.
Twenty percent of the farm’s products sell through the stand, while 80 percent of it sustains the dining service of the University, according to the SSF website.
Stefan Johnsrud, assistant manager of SSF, said while most of the farm’s income comes from the dining service sale, the stand helps the farm have a presence on campus and make high-quality food accessible to students.
“We grow with organic principles,” Johnsrud said. “So it’s no spray, no fertilizer and no pesticide. You don’t need to concern any of that on our food.”
The SSF website says that they operate year-round and produce 30,000 lbs of fruit and vegetables for the campus community each year. The farm has five acres of seasonal field and 9,000 square feet of year-round tunnel.
Ed Preusser, senior in LAS, said that compared to supermarket food, he trusts the stand’s food more as people could track its sources.
All the products on the farm are grown by student labor under the advice of heads of SSF.
Johnsrud said besides students who are paid $10 for their labor, there are also students who volunteer to earn some extra credits for classes.
“A lot of people don’t understand where their food comes from,” Preusser said, “I think having student have a direct role in producing the food is very good for them.”
Friedhoff said despite the fact that her major has nothing to do with the farm, she enjoys the work and likes to teach people about it.
“I’m not studying soils or sustainable cultures. I work at the farm mostly out of my personal interests.” Friedhoff said, “It’s more of a lifestyle for me.”