QUEENSBURY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The student dining hall at SUNY Adirondack looks new this fall. New tables, chairs, and even closed-in quiet space seating are a welcome sight for a new generation of learners. If you head in toward the stairs heading to the second floor, you might notice something else new – and freshly-grown – on a table opposite the cafeteria counters.
On Thursday, a first-time farmer’s market table was up and running inside SUNY Adirondack’s dining hall, boasting cherry and full-sized tomatoes, rhubarb, carrots and a whole lot more. All of it was grown by SUNY Adirondack students, faculty and staff on campus, at an orchard, greenhouse and market garden used by two school programs.
“It provides a learning space for our agricultural business programs and students,” explained Mary Clark-Smith, SUNY Adirondack Farm Manager. “It provides our faculty and students a space to get out into nature and relax and work in.”
The farmer’s market is one of four intended to be held at the dining hall over the fall 2022 semester. Hungry students living on- and off-campus have a chance to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables while hustling to get to class – and they may find more student-grown ingredients showing up in the food at Chartwells, the operator of the dining hall cafeteria.
The footprint doesn’t stop there. The farm also provides food to SUNY Adirondack’s culinary arts program at 14 Hudson in Glens Falls; and plans to supply food to local restaurants, and even school districts.
“A lot of districts are interested in doing farm-to-table,” Clark-Smith said. “Bolton Landing Central School District, in particular, is a district we’re planning to partner with.”
Since starting as SUNY Adirondack’s farm manager earlier this year, Clark-Smith has gotten two programs involved with growing crops. The college’s Agricultural Ecology and Intro to Sustainable Agriculture courses have both had their hands on the growing process.
Those students will be growing new crops depending on the season. While Thursday’s table featured raspberries and fresh flowers, markets at other points in the year may offer more root vegetables – all in timing with mother nature. Raspberries, cherries, apples and hops come back at the orchard year after year, while the greenhouse sees new plants seeded every two weeks.
It’s also important to the program to follow organic best practices, from seeds in the soil to crops on the market table. Organic seeds and compost have been prioritized whenever possible. None of the produce that comes out of the farm is touched by herbicides or insecticides.
The little table full of goods was already popular on its first day in business. It’s a great way to feed the campus and educate agricultural students, and also helps the campus learn about the farm who might not know that fresh lettuces and tomatoes are growing not far from their Freshman Seminar or Biology lab class.
“A lot of people aren’t really familiar or aware of the farm and orchard we have on campus, so we’re hoping to increase engagement with students on campus. We’ve had good responses, and some sales already,” Clark-Smith said.
Thursday was the first of four farmer’s markets planned for the fall, with extra sales possible if extra materials are left. The program also runs a mailing list, where produce can be ordered directly.