Hundreds of Stockton students pass through I-Wing and USC 2 each day. What many do not notice, however, is the valuable resource hiding in plain sight, ready to be taken advantage of. Both of these locations are home to state-of-the-art refrigerators that are stocked regularly with fresh produce, completely free of charge to students and faculty.
The produce that supplies the fridges comes from the Stockton Sustainability Farm. The Sustainability Farm is not to be confused with the community garden. “We are a real farm and we grow, some years, 10 tons or 24,000-plus pounds of produce,” said Ron Hutchison, Associate Professor of Sustainability and Farm Advisor. Apart from selling at farmer’s markets and giving away produce to local food-insecure areas, a good portion of that yield goes to the fridges on Stockton’s campus.
“Our pedagogical need is to teach students agroecology because you can’t address sustainability and not address agriculture. In the Sustainability major, we have energy tracks, we have policy tracks, we have management tracks, and we have agroecology tracks. So we really cover all the bases. Our job really is to show students how to grow food,” said Hutchison. “Putting smiles on people’s faces is just a bonus.”
Sophia Milone, Farm Intern and third-year Sustainability student, has been helping with the fridge project since last summer. “The fridges aren’t super well-communicated. I don’t think everyone really has the knowledge that they’re even there. What I would like to do with the fridges is create a way more robust communication system. I think it would be awesome to have a network where we can clearly communicate to a wide range of people because I feel like this resource is really important,” said Milone. “There’s also a present need for a fridge on the AC campus. Atlantic City students should have access to the same resource.”
Students who wish to begin utilizing the produce fridges have much to look forward to. Cold-tolerant crops are on their way this winter, including kale, carrots, fennel, radishes, onions, chives, green onions, beets, potatoes, and various salad mixes. In the spring semester, among the produce one could expect are spring onions, lettuce, and asparagus. Of course, the end of the school year also brings the start of Jersey Tomato season. “We can never grow tomatoes early enough for people,” bemused Hutchison. “We get people who really love it and tell us the things they made, and it’s super uplifting. I really enjoy giving things away”.
Fridge restocks are currently communicated through email. Anyone wishing to join the food distribution list should email Ron Hutchison at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “SUST FARM PRODUCE.” Students of any major are also welcome to explore the Sustainability Farm, located off Vera King Farris Drive near the Jimmie Leeds Entrance.
Categories: Campus Life