The University of Maryland’s Department of Dining Services, College of Agriculture & Natural Resources (AGNR) and Office of Sustainability have announced the creation of Terp Farm, a sustainable farming operation to be located 15 miles from the College Park campus.
Dining Services secured a $124,400 grant from the university’s Sustainability Fund for a three-year pilot program and is now hiring a Lead Agricultural Technician to help support the project. Terp Farm will offer four-season vegetable production to be used in selected dining halls and on the Green Tidings mobile dining food truck, as well as provide produce to food-insecure members of the campus and College Park communities.
“The Terp Farm project grew out of Dining Services’ Sustainable Food Commitment signed in 2012,” says Colleen Wright Riva, Director of UMD Dining Services. “A major component of the commitment is annual, incremental increases in sourcing from local growers—well, it doesn’t get closer to home than produce grown on a campus farm by an involved campus community! Our chefs are excited about incorporating these campus-grown vegetables into our menus and I can’t wait to taste the meals they create!”
The College of AGNR has committed two acres at the Central Maryland Research and Education Center’s Upper Marlboro facility for Terp Farm. Meanwhile, AGNR students are already incorporating the farm into some of their coursework this semester.
“Terp Farm is a natural fit for the College of AGNR,” says Cheng-i Wei, dean of the College. “It is an extension of our dedication to providing students with hands-on educational experiences while also demonstrating the important role agriculture plays in any community.”
Capstone students from the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture will be working together to propose overall designs for the farm, crop selections, planting schedules, as well as post-harvest handling and sanitary measures to meet food safety goals. Students enrolled in a course called Analyzing Alternative Enterprises offered by the Institute of Applied Agriculture will be developing enterprise budgets to determine which crops will be most profitable to grow on the farm. Additionally, a team of students from the Department of Communication Event Planning Seminar will be organizing kick-off events to celebrate the opening of Terp Farm this semester.
Allison Lilly, sustainability and wellness coordinator for Dining Services, who is managing the Terp Farm project, says “We are excited about the collaborations that have resulted from Terp Farm and are actively seeking other ways to engage the entire UMD community in this project.”