The morning of Thursday, Sept. 14 dawned crisp and clear, as if fall were finally approaching after weeks of insufferable heat. But another sure sign of fall is the arrival of Spring Valley Student Farm’s (SVSF) Farm Fresh Market, located outside of the Homer-Babbidge Library on Fairfield Way at the University of Connecticut.
Groups of students perused tables laden with the fruits of an end-of-summer harvest. Some were seen admiring ripe cucumbers and tomatoes, while others indulged their sweet tooth with baked goods provided by UConn Dining Services. Seasonal bouquets of sunflowers and marigolds proved to be a customer favorite, selling out almost instantly.
Students flocked around the farm’s tents as SVSF offered a variety of colorful shirts emblazoned with a vegetable-themed logo. True to their theme of sustainability, the clothing is all repurposed instead of made new.
The market’s gorgeous display would be enough to wow any shopper, but what’s even more impressive is the message behind the event. Indeed, SVSF — located about five miles from the center of campus — keeps sustainability and renewability at the forefront of their practices. With the goal of supplying the university with both food and education, 11 student farmers live on the farm year round.
The students have a hand in growing the food they supply to the campus, in addition to handling a plethora of other farm-related work to keep SVSF in operation. Some of their contributions to the UConn community can be found on their website, but SVSF-grown food is frequently supplied to the Bistro in the Student Union.
They also work to teach the UConn community about the ways the foods they eat impact the environment, whether that be through farming practices or the path products take from farm to dining hall table.
One of these student farmers noted that “We don’t use any chemicals on our produce. It’s all natural and organic.” As outlined in SVSF’s mission statement, “organic” means the use of any pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, GMO (genetically modified) seeds or chemical fertilizers is prohibited. Instead of chemical fertilizers, for example, farmers — like the members of SVSF — might use organic materials like compost manure or bone meal to promote plant growth.
Not only does this protect consumers from harmful chemicals associated with numerous health issues, but it minimizes waste, pollution, soil erosion and saves energy. Avoiding pesticides protects local wildlife and the people who live on or near farms. Commonly used pesticides also negatively impact essential microorganisms, which causes a decline in soil quality.
So if you are looking for fresh flowers, vegetables and baked goods, or would simply like to learn more about SVSF’ practices, the Farm Fresh Market is the place to be! It is held every Thursday through Oct. 12, 2023 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The market is usually held on Fairfield Way, though location is dependent on weather conditions. Only credit and/or debit cards are accepted as payment.