BTN LiveBIG: Maryland’s Terp Farm fills bellies and minds with good stuff

BTN LiveBIG: Maryland’s Terp Farm fills bellies and minds with good stuff

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLv9tSNXc6o&w=560&h=315%5D

The University of Maryland is a diverse place. And thanks to the Terp Farm, that applies not just to the student body, but also the watermelon, kale, squash and other vegetables being grown on campus.

“The Terp Farm is our sustainable vegetable farm,” said Allison Lilly, sustainability and wellness coordinator for UMD Dining Services, one of the three offices that administer the Farm. “[It is] really a student-generated and student-focused project.  They are at the heart of what we do here.”

Terp Farm is worked by a rotating cadre of students, who represent all aspects of the Maryland community. Guy Kilpatric, the Farm’s lead agricultural technician, supervises the project.

“I started farming when I was about the same age as the students that are out there,” Kilpatric said.  “There’s just a diversity of experiences, there’s a lot to learn, and it’s something that’s intriguing and people get really invested in.”

Created in response to the University’s Sustainable Food Commitment and funded by a student-awarded sustainability grant, Terp Farm is located on two acres of the Central Maryland Research and Education Center’s Upper Marlboro facility.  While the Farm allows students a chance to get their hands dirty, it also provides a plethora of vegetables and herbs for the campus dining service.

“This is pretty much the most that I could ask for really, just being in the dirt pulling the produce,” said Stephen Jackson, a senior in Maryland’s Turf and Golf Course Management program. “It’s definitely a good feeling. It tastes good, it’s actually edible, and we did it ourselves.”

“We are a really big dining program; we serve 26,000-27,000 meals per day,” Lilly said. She also noted that while Terp Farm can’t yet provide all of the vegetables used in campus dining halls, “we work with the culinary team to identify ways we can really showcase [our] product.”

Chef Will Rogers of the University-run Green Tidings food truck reaps the rewards of the farm.

“Being a chef and having the exposure of the Terp Farm has been great because we get fresh produce every week, off a farm that is close to us,” Rogers said. “And the quality that they grow is fantastic.”

In addition to helping fill the larders of the campus dining halls, Terp Farm provides fruit and vegetables to those in need through organizations like UMD Campus Pantry, which serves food insecure individuals in the University community.

According to Lilly, Terp Farm, along with the larger Upper Marlboro facility, donated over 12,000 pounds of food to area organizations, including the Campus Pantry. According to Lilly, The Campus Pantry program started in October 2014 and served 158 clients in the past academic year.

“Hopefully, this will spread into something bigger,” Jackson said.

Watch the one-minute video above for more information about Maryland’s Terp Farm.

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