There’s no need to spend hours searching Farmer’s Market or sifting through the bins at local grocery stores to find fresh, organic produce. In fact, you don’t even have to leave campus. The only thing students need to do is sign up for the community supported agriculture (CSA) program at the Cal Poly Organic Farm.
Each week throughout the quarter, program participants receive a box filled with fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. One box feeds approximately two to three people, said CSA manager and Cal Poly graduate Leah Bauer.
Participants can pick up their produce at the farm itself, Poly Canyon Village, or the main desk at Cerro Vista.
“Eating locally-grown food reduces the energy it takes to get food from the fields to your plate, which benefits the environment,” said Cindy Douglas, manager of the farm.
The farm, which is certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture, grows enough crops to support 280 subscribers; students currently fill 50 of those spots. Douglas’ goal is to eventually fill the whole program with students.
The bulk of the produce comes from the organic farm but the boxes are sometimes supplemented with fruit and vegetables the farm doesn’t grow from other, mostly local and organic, farms.
“Unfortunately, sometimes we can’t get organic items in the quantity we need, so we buy conventionally-grown produce,” Douglas said.
This produce is marked and bagged separately from the organic produce.
Program participants can expect to see lettuce, potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and corn among other items in their boxes this season.
The cost is $19 a week, but students on a budget have another option. As part of the work-trade program, students who work a weekly four-hour shift on the farm receive a free box of produce.
The farm also accepts student volunteers who can work whenever they are available. After working a shift, they can pick up any leftover produce.
“With organic being so expensive these days, it’s really helpful with my budget,” said Rhiannon Montgomery, journalism junior and farm volunteer.
Though the CSA project is only one aspect of the farm, it accounts for 90 percent of the profit and employees depend on produce sales for their salaries.
“By signing up, you are supporting education, your campus and your fellow students,” Douglas said.
The organic farm employs Cal Poly students and community members for both full-time and part-time work. Students enrolled in the Organic Farm Enterprise Project (CRSC 203) also help work the 11-acre land. The class is held every quarter and accepts all majors.
The CSA program is currently accepting applications for fall quarter and will do so until the program is full.
For more information on the organic farm, volunteer opportunities and how to sign up for the CSA program, go to www.calpolyorgfarm.com or call 805-756-6139.