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Certified Organic Fruits and Vegetables Grown at UNH

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
July 25, 2007

The student-run Organic Garden Club, started in 2003, tends two acres on a larger campus community farm off Main Street, a USDA certified organic spread covering some 30 acres.

There, the student gardeners grow an assortment of salad greens and tubers as well as peppers, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, garlic, pumpkins, squash, watermelons and herbs. On Wednesdays from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., the produce is sold at the club’s farm stand in Murkland Courtyard.

OGC is part of the Office of Sustainability’s food and agriculture initiative, which strives to engage the university community in local and sustainable agriculture and nutrition.

The club got its start at the Spinney Road location after teaming up with UNH’s Students Without Borders in 2004. Together they applied to the UNH Parents Association for a grant to ready the site for farming. The $10,000 also helped fund the installation of a drip irrigation system and a shed.

During the growing season, crops reaped from the farmland are used by UNH Dining Services. The third annual Harvest Dinner slated to take place in September will, as it has in the past, serve up food grown by the Organic Garden Club.

To bear the “certified organic” label, fruits and vegetables are grown according to strict USDA guidelines, without harmful chemicals or other unnatural products. That means no man-made fertilizers or additives. And everything from the seeds to the soil must meet the federal standards. Government inspectors visit farms that want to grow “certified organic” to make sure all of the rules are being followed.

With organically grown food, farmers treat the soil rather than the plants. The OGC uses compost, manure, seaweed, red clover and winter rye to enrich the soil.

Anyone interested in organic farming and wishing to volunteer with the group can join them for workdays Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 5:30 p.m. For more information visit http://www.sustainableunh.unh.edu/fas/ogc.html.

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