Fall is the harvest season, and with Campus Sustainability’s farm share program, the harvest can be delivered to you on campus every other week.
The program partners with The Common Market, a nonprofit organization that offers farm share options of fruits, vegetables, eggs, coffee, and cheese. Items are purchased directly from producers within 250 miles of The Common Market’s warehouse in East Point, Georgia.
The most popular share option contains six to seven seasonal produce items and a dozen eggs. Marcela Moreno, a research associate at the Strategic Energy Institute, signed up for the program during its first season and found that it has revolutionized how she shops.
“It shapes what I’m making more than anything,” she said. Participants get an email the Friday before the following week’s delivery (which arrives on Wednesdays) telling them what will be included in the next share. That provides the weekend to plan meals and buy other ingredients.
“I usually look at what I’m getting, find a recipe that includes some of the items, and then supplement whatever I need that I won’t get in the share,” Moreno said. “It has reduced the tendency to overbuy things at the grocery store.” The biweekly email also includes recipes for each item in the share that week.
Moreno noted that it’s more affordable than other produce subscriptions she has tried, and the amount is manageable. It also forces her, at times, to be more creative with her cooking and try new foods.
“At one point we got beets, and I didn’t think I liked them,” she said. But after pickling some and baking others to add into quinoa bowls, it turned out she did. She encouraged newcomers to approach the farm share with an open mind, and for students living off-campus to consider it as well.
“It might be difficult to cook a lot in a communal kitchen on campus, but if you’re in an apartment, it’s a cool option and affordable with the eggs included,” said Moreno, who is also a two-time Tech graduate. “I wish we’d had something like this at Tech sooner, especially when I was a student.”
This is the fourth season the farm share is being offered, and each season runs about six months. According to Malte Weiland, senior sustainability project manager with Campus Services, Georgia Tech is the largest Atlanta area site served by the Common Market program.
“You find all kinds of people who like it,” Weiland said. He is also a participant, and enjoys the variety the share brings to his eating. “Recently we’ve added cheese, which I immediately jumped on because I’m a huge cheese fan. It’s local, but still packaged in a way that feels somewhat commercial, which makes people more comfortable.”
Going into the fall and winter, Weiland said subscribers can expect to see root vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, as well as leafy greens and citrus in their boxes. When there are fewer items in season, another locally made product such as grits or preserves may be substituted for a vegetable.
Those who participate can choose to pay once for the season or in biweekly installments. The pickup location is at the Student Center Healthy Space on the second floor of the building. Weiland also manages the pickup every other week.
“One of my favorite things hosting this is getting to catch up with everyone as they come by to pick up,” he said. “It’s turned out to be a get-together for talking about food.”
An early bird discount is being offered through Friday, Oct. 5. The deadline to sign up for the season is Thursday, Nov. 1.