Extended Growing Seasons – Kara Carter

Sometimes it can be easy to forget all the work that goes into producing the food we see at grocery stores, restaurants and dining halls.

We don’t always realize that these foods were seeds not too long ago and it took a farmer to feed, water and nourish the food to ripeness. Once ripe it took more work to harvest, clean, package and deliver the food to its final destination.

Here at UMD, some of the foods you see in the dining hall are grown locally at the Terp Farm! Currently in the midst of its third year of production, the Terp Farm works to bring you fresh, locally grown foods throughout the entire season. This does not come easy – winter weather conditions are not friendly for growing. So how exactly do we get fresh salad greens, herbs and more when the weather is cold?

We took a visit to the Terp Farm to see how Farmer Guy was growing in the cooler weather.  Greenhouses, or green tunnels, are the solution! The Terp Farm has one small greenhouse, and three large greenhouse tunnels. The small greenhouse protects the small seedlings that are in the early stages of growing, including cilantro, dill, onions, lavender, rosemary. Once these are ready, they will be moved into one of the large greenhouses.

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The large greenhouses create a warm environment for the plants to continue growing by trapping heat from the sun inside. It also protects the plants from outside elements such as rain, snow, frost and ice. This allows the plants to thrive, but also means that the greenhouses must be equipped with irrigation to ensure the plants get the water they need. During our trip to the Terp Farm we were able to see the salad green, kale and rainbow swiss chard currently growing!

 

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When ready, these will be harvested and delivered to UMD Dining Halls to be a part of your meal and more things will be planted. Thanks to greenhouses, this can continue through the winter!

 

-Kara Carter, Dietetics Intern