The Ohio State University Student Farm
Moving to Columbus at the end of the 2008 college football season was an instant wake up call as to what Central Ohio held in store each fall. I was inundated with everything scarlet and grey; tunes of Hang on Sloopy echoed in my ears, and the massive crowds of fans sporting OSU gear were almost as mind-boggling as a mirage. I was taken aback by the discovery that mere days after the season closed, storefronts were donning countdowns in anticipation of next year. To say Columbus is fanatical about their Buckeyes is an understatement, but after a few years of calling Central Ohio home I discovered that there is more growing at The Ohio State University than their love for new head coach Urban Meyer. Not only is their student farm producing fresh, healthy food minutes from campus, their mission to educate through demonstration and research is planted deep into the roots of this small urban farm.
Minutes from downtown and in walking distance of “The Shoe”, is one of the best kept secrets on campus. The Ohio State University Student Farm is the brain child of Dr. Marc Bennett, Professor of Horticulture & Crop Science. Dr. Bennett helped coordinate and manage the beginning phases of making this dream a reality, and through the help of the OSU Excellence in Engagement Grant the student farm was soon up and running. It is a true partnership between the OSU students and faculty, Metro High School students and instructors, and a number of community volunteers.
During my visit, I met up with Volunteer Coordinator Henry Peller. In between instructing a few new volunteers on which crops to pick for the upcoming market, we toured the property. Henry filled me in on the history of the student farm and how valuable the hands-on experience is to him and his fellow students. He mentioned how closely involved they are in every aspect; from the design, to planting seeds, the hours of tedious weeding and maintenance, harvesting, and finally selling the crops. At the student farm, an impetus is placed on learning about food systems and food production. As we debated the nuances of organic versus traditional agriculture, Henry explained the various plots and why each plays an essential role in its mission. The farm contains an organic plot that is sans chemicals, as well as a plot where Integrated Crop Management (ICM) is studied. The goal of this particular research plot is to prove that extreme use of pesticides and herbicides is unnecessary and using them on an as needed basis could mean the difference between a successful season and irreplaceable loss for the farmer. Henry also discussed some of the long-term goals, one of the most exciting of which involves converting campus dining hall waste into farm compost.
If you are like me and enjoy the opportunity to experience hands-on learning, then rejoice! The Ohio State University Student Farm welcomes the community, giving aspiring green thumbs the opportunity to get their hands in the dirt. My day on the farm was an exciting glimpse into the future of Central Ohio agriculture, seen from the eyes of the next generation of local farmers; yet another reason to cheer O-H…I-O!
The Ohio State University Student Farm turnips (pictured left) traveled 0 miles to Columbus, while the turnips (pictured right) traveled roughly 2,300 miles to Columbus.
Turnips are a starchy root vegetable in which the root and the leaves are able to be consumed. They have high levels of cancer fighting antioxidants, are a natural anti-inflammatory, contain high levels of calcium and potassium, and are high in fiber which keeps you fuller longer. They have fewer calories than potatoes and can be prepared in a similar way – roast, boil, mash, or bake your way to measurable healthy benefits.
References8 Health Benefits of Turnips
Roasted Turnip, Potato & Apple Hash
Turnips tend to be bitter, so adding something sweet such as apple will help mellow their flavor.
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