Amid rising economic insecurity and heightened uncertainty, the Purdue Student Farm is doing all it can to keep its local community healthy and well-fed. The usual outlets the farm sells to, mainly campus dining venues, are closed due to the COVID-19 virus, but the farm is still active and producing. Currently, the farm supplies Food Finders Food Bank and the on-campus ACE Food Pantry with fresh produce.
Over the last three weeks, Steve Hallett, horticulture and landscape architecture professor and advisor to the student farm, said they have donated 100 bags of fresh greens to Food Finders every Monday and Thursday.
“There is a possibility that there may be some shortages of fresh vegetables as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in donations to organizations such as Food Finders, and we want to do our part for our community,” Hallett said.
Currently, leafy greens are mainly what’s available for harvest but Chris Adair, the student farm manager, said they will continue making donations to pantries as new crops become ready to harvest and this crisis persists.
“We’re going to run the farm for as long and as normally as possible,” he continued. “We try to always promote the idea that access to healthy food is essential for every community, not just during times like this.”
The farm is taking extra precautions to keep its student employees and beneficiaries safe and healthy. This involves dividing into two small groups that never interact with each other and keeping employees a safe distance apart while harvesting or packaging. Additionally, while handling food and packaging, students wear masks and gloves at all times.
It may feel like the world has stopped but people still need access to food, which means workers along the entire supply chain, from farmers to grocery clerks, are essential in keeping the nation fed, Hallett said.
“We are planning for the rest of the season,” he continued. “It is sowing and planting time. We hope we will be able to sell to the dining halls by the end of the summer, but if not, we will sell directly to the community and we will continue to donate.”