NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — The Student Farm, an informal endeavor for many years, was officially welcomed to Rutgers Gardens in 2016, in collaboration with the Office of Agriculture and Urban Programs. With renewed vigor and guidance, the farm now functions, in part, as an outdoor classroom for specialized, interdisciplinary coursework, providing unique learning opportunities, hands-on experiences, and research opportunities for students throughout the year. But it also serves as a vibrant local food source and provides a foundation for community outreach and programming, as well as an entrepreneurial perspective.
In its first year, the Student Farm began with the installation of a new high-tunnel to extend the growing season and allow for better production of cool-season crops and high-quality heirloom tomatoes, as well as a permanent washing station and a modest plot of land. The following year, we were able to expand into the first half-acre field of the permanent growing site, with plenty of potential for additional growth in the near future. Surrounded by a 10-foot deer fence, the Student Farm produces not only a profusion of fresh produce and cut flowers, but also a regular supply of eggs from the brood of laying hens maintained there. In addition to the many varieties of vegetables grown, the farm features both perennial and annual pollinator strips as well, to naturally aid fruit set and yield.
Through the hard work of the Farm Manager and Student Farm interns, many, many bushels of fresh vegetables are produced yearly. In the interest of supporting our local community, above and beyond sustaining the Student Farm, fresh produce is donated weekly to Elijah’s Promise and the Community Soup Kitchen in New Brunswick, amounting to hundreds of pounds annually. Additionally, we offer a 14-week Community Supported Agriculture share program and sell produce and cut flowers at Cook’s Market, the weekly farmers market at Rutgers Gardens.
To learn more about enrolling in the CSA share program, as well as the opportunity — in partnership with Rutgers Against Hunger — to purchase a “giving share” for a New Brunswick family or university student in need, please visit the Office of Agriculture and Urban Programs.
The summer interns who contribute to the farm operation are part of a 16-week Student Farm Internship Program. These paid positions offer students the opportunity to learn about production, local food justice, community outreach, and more, by helping with all aspects of small-scale organic farming, from bed preparation and planting, to harvesting and distribution of produce. As well, the farm interns join students enrolled in the 8-week summer farm course, “The Principles and Practice of Small-Scale Organic Farming,” offered through the Agriculture and Food Systems Program, for lectures from experts, hands-on field work, and field trips to other New Jersey farms. Visit the Student Farm Internship page to learn more.
— Rutgers University