MTSU FARMERS’ MARKET TO OPEN FOR SEASON FRIDAY, MAY 22
Plant and Soil Science Students Preparing for Weekly Sales
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 15, 2009
EDITORIAL CONTACT: Gina E. Fann, 615-898-5385
(MURFREESBORO)—MTSU is inviting the community to enjoy the flavors of locally grown produce while supporting agricultural education at the Plant and Soil Science farmers’ market each Friday this summer.
The market will open Friday, May 22, from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Horticulture Center off Blue Raider Drive on the MTSU campus and will remain open each Friday into the fall. Now in its second year, it will offer fresh produce as well as perennials, annuals and houseplants for sale to the community.
The market will begin with cool-season crops like cabbages, broccoli, onions, peas and lettuces; other crops will be added once they are ready for sale. Later crops include peppers, squash, pumpkins, sweet corn, melons and seven varieties of tomatoes.
Proceeds from the market are used to purchase supplies for MTSU’s on-campus greenhouse and to cover expenses of agriculture students’ travel to professional conferences and competitions. MTSU students enrolled in a vegetable gardening class and members of the Plant and Soil Science Club grow all plants and produce from seed to maturation.
“Starting the farmers’ market was kind of a no-brainer,” said Amy Dyer, a senior plant and soil science/ Spanish major. Dyer was enrolled in the vegetable gardening course in 2008, when the idea for the market arose. She is also a founding member of the revived Plant and Soil Science Club, which was inactive for several years until 2008.
“We had all this produce grown over the semester, and the market allows us to offer something to the community everyone can enjoy,” Dyer said. “You know where the food came from, and where your money is going.”
Students in the program learn about drip irrigation, soil properties, fertilization techniques and the importance of plant spacing, all through hands-on involvement.
“We grow our own transplants in the greenhouse on campus and then transfer them to a quarter-acre plot on the Guy James Farm,” said Dr. Nate Phillips, professor of horticulture, who began the market last year. The Guy James Farm also provides a location for some produce, like melons and sweet corn, to be grown near the river bottom.
One benefit of being a “locavore,” or eating locally grown produce, is increased confidence in the products you buy. While the risk of salmonella and E. coli outbreaks made headlines last year, MTSU’s market was able to offer locally grown products that were guaranteed safe.
The 435-acre farm on Guy James Road, located off Halls Hill Pike in Murfreesboro, was purchased by MTSU from Rutherford County two years ago. Long-term plans for the farm include moving MTSU’s dairy facility there and consolidating other agricultural facilities into one central location. The farm recently added a large-scale composting system, which will be used to fertilize crops grown there.
This spring, the MTSU Oversight Steering Committee examined the effect closing the Agribusiness and Agriscience farm labs—like the Guy James Farm—would have on the university’s budget. MTSU President Sidney McPhee has said the farm labs will not be closed as part of budget cuts.
“The Guy James Farm is important because it gives you hands-on experience, which is really the best you can get in the program. It lets us try out the techniques we learn about in class and see what works best in the real world,” Dyer said.
This year, students also will harvest a plot of organic produce for the market after many consumers expressed an interest last year. Students rely heavily on sustainability while growing all plants for the market, and use of chemicals on the rest of the produce is very minimal.
“Our desire is to make the Guy James Farm a model for sustainable agriculture,” Phillips said. “We are using the property to grow crops for biofuel research, study organic farming and provide a hands-on learning facility for our agribusiness and agriscience students.”
The professor added that the MTSU farmers’ market hopes to expand in the future to include other local vendors, music and entertainment to create a complete market experience for the community.
IN BRIEF: MTSU’s Plant and Soil Science farmers’ market will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. each Friday beginning May 22 and continuing through the fall in the Horticulture Center off Blue Raider Drive on the MTSU campus. The market will begin with cool season crops like cabbages, broccoli, onions, peas and lettuces. Later crops include peppers, squash, pumpkins, sweet corn, melons and seven varieties of tomatoes. Now in its second year, the market will offer perennials, annuals and houseplants for sale to the community as well as fresh produce. Proceeds are used to purchase supplies for MTSU’s on-campus greenhouse and to cover expenses of agriculture students traveling to professional conferences and competitions. MTSU students enrolled in a vegetable gardening class and members of the Plant and Soil Science Club grow all plants and produce from seed to maturation.
For MTSU news and information, visit www.mtsunews.com.
ATTENTION, MEDIA: This release was written by Claire Rogers, a senior majoring in advertising/public relations at MTSU. We request your use of her byline if you use the release in its entirety.
For color JPEGs of MTSU students caring for plants for market, the farm site and produce from the 2008 market, please contact Gina E. Fann in the Office of News and Public Affairs via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 615-898-5385. Thanks!