Going into its fifth year, the Knox Farm is producing thousands of pounds of food to feed students. The new Food Systems Coordinator of the farm, Christina Zopler, is pouring her time and effort into making the farm a place that the students and faculty want to go to. With her are the two student workers, freshman Erin Green and senior Monica Martinez, who work as her farm crew.
The volunteers and workers of the Knox Farm, which is located behind the Science and Math building, have been working tirelessly to produce different types of garden-grown vegetables and herbs that get sold to Bon Apptit throughout the year. All the food that is grown is sold to the cafeteria, and the leftovers get divided up between the workers and volunteers who participate that week. Green takes advantage of the excess food.
“Since I started we brought a lot of tomatoes and eggplant —
a ton of eggplant, and of course peppers and tomatoes,” Green said.
Green was even lucky enough to get a mini watermelon. The watermelon seeds planted didn’t produce enough to sell, so the workers got a rare Knox farm watermelon to take home. Green, as a freshman at Knox, uses the farm as an escape from her loads of homework and responsibilities on campus. She says that she is excited to spend her four years at Knox working with the farm.
“It’s really therapeutic, like between studies to go and pull weeds or just be out in nature. I like the people, the people are really great. We are trying to make it a place where people want to go because that’s where their food is coming from,” Green said.
For Zolper, working at the farm is her way of taking care of the planet. Zolper has big plans for the farm in the coming years. She is a lifelong gardener and farmer and is excited to help with sustainability on campus.
“I saw the lack in Knox’s farming and sustainability. It really need[ed] to be implanted and pushed, it is a big issue,” Zolper said.
Since being hired in late February, she has put in a new irrigation system in the high tunnels to make watering the plants more efficient. Before, they were watering everything by hand. The high tunnels, or more commonly known as greenhouses, are what makes the farming seasons extend. They allow Zolper and her crew to begin early in the spring with some produce and then continue later into the year. The farm workers are working hard right now to patch up the high tunnels in preparation for the cold winter months.
“We closed the windows and put the sides down last night, we had to patch the hoop house cause of the hail storm a couple years ago,” Green said.
Zopler’s biggest push for the Knox Farm is for the education tunnel and the production tunnel to merge into one another and to have students and faculty get involved in the process. The production tunnel is where all the food sold is being grown and the education tunnel is where the urban agriculture class is held. Right now, the tunnels are separated. Zopler believes that if merged, the students learning about urban agriculture would be able to learn more about the process of farming, rather than just watching their seeds grow.
We could double our production capacity, grow a lot more food and the urban ag class could learn a lot more,” Zolper said.
Zopler and her crew would love to see more students and faculty coming to the farm. She would also love to work one-on-one with some of the academic departments. She wants the Knox Farm to be more a part of the Knox community and discussed amongst the students and faculty.
The Knox Farm volunteer hours are Wednesdays from 4p.m.to 6p.m. Look out for reminders in the campus bulletin.