The Terp farm is a sustainable vegetable farm located on two acres of central Maryland research and educational center in Upper Marlboro and it provides a plethora of learning opportunities (as well as fresh organic veggies) to the student body of the University of Maryland. My partner and I got a hands-on experience of the Terp Farm.
We arrived at the farm on a rainy April morning where Guy, the Terp Farm manager, was waiting for us. Guy is very passionate and knowledgeable about farming. He gave us a tour of the farm and taught us about the importance of soil in sustainable agriculture. At the Terp Farm they prepare their own soil to grow organic crops.
We learned that the Terp Farm soil is mixed with: Compost (decayed organic material), coarse organic matter (from coconut fiber or ground-up coconut), and perlite (volcanic rock), which acts as a soil conditioner, supporting soil water retention and airflow.
We spent a very productive and educational day at the farm. We even got to harvest green onions which would be later delivered to the campus pantry. From an organic approach, the most important fact I learned at the Terp Farm is that there are three seeds to organic farming, which are:
- Compost: According to Guy, it is the most vital one of all. It stimulates biological activity and provides more structure to the soil.
- Cover Crops: It creates preferable and more favorable crops growing conditions. Cover crops changes the soil chemical composition that will benefit different crops.
- Crop Rotation: it helps mitigating pests and diseases from contaminating the crops.
Towards the end of our day, the sun was shining and my partner and I reluctantly had to leave the farm and return to civilization. We will always remember the beautiful day we spent at the Terp Farm learning about the wonderful resources and fresh sustainable produce options the farm has to offer to the UMD community.
- Angela Sbodio, Dietetics Intern