Home CommentaryStudent Life Concordia’s City Farm school grows gorgeous greens on campus

Concordia’s City Farm school grows gorgeous greens on campus

by Pauline Nesbitt September 9, 2014
Concordia’s City Farm school grows gorgeous greens on campus

Stop by the farmer’s market at Loyola to taste the fruits of their labour

Did you know that those delicious-looking tomatoes in the farm garden on the Loyola campus can be purchased at Concordia’s farmer’s market? The market stand is literally a few steps away from the garden, and on market days the produce is harvested just before it opens at 11 a.m. This is food that is truly market-fresh and organically grown.

Photo by Johanna Pellus

Jackie Martin, the City Farm School coordinator, explained that the market garden is an internship program that provides the necessary training for students to design, manage and run small-scale urban gardens from seedlings to market, and is a key component of the school.  The market and garden at Loyola, along with the garden at the downtown campus’ Hall building, are great tools for the students to practice their skills. Serving at the farmer’s market enables them to share their knowledge and to interact with the community.

From spinach to squash, an impressive array of produce can be found in the gardens: salad greens, radishes, beets, carrots, peas, beans, Swiss chard, several types of kale, cucumber, zucchini, patty pans (zucchini shaped like spaceships), cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, broccoli, tomatoes, ground cherries, currants, raspberries, blueberries, pears, edamame, garlic, eggplants, an amazing selection of sweet and hot peppers, grapes, and fine herbs.

“The first crop that appears at our market in early spring is spinach, which is the best tasting thing in the whole garden,” says Martin.

The appearance of the winter squash signals the end of the growing season.  The schedule of vegetable availabilities per period can be found on the City Farm School website, which is updated regularly.

When customers see the bright red Russian kale, or the Swiss chard they frequently ask “what is it?” and “how do you cook it?” says Martin.  She and the interns are more than willing to share their own recipes and cooking tips for these food items, which will be added to their website soon.

As an urban agriculturalist, Martin ensures that both the farmers’ market and the City School projects subscribe to the three pillars of sustainability: community, economy, and environment.  She confirmes that the only pesticide used in the garden is made of a plant purée that is lightly fermented in water and sprayed directly on the crops.  Compost is used as a fertilizer, along with fish or algae emulsions or chicken manure.

The planning for next year’s market crops will start in November, so that the seeds can be ordered and planted in the greenhouse by early March. Next May, Martin will host the annual plant sale where some of these young organically-grown plants can be purchased by anyone who wants to try their hand at urban agriculture.

The farmer’s market receives some support from the Sustainability Action Fund and is in partnership/collaboration with Sustainable Concordia, People’s Potato (which uses produce from the gardens), Concordia Council on Student Life, and the Concordia Food Coalition.

Its operating hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. until the end of October.

For more information visit: concordialoyolacityfarm.wordpress.com

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