Down on the City Farm

 

The UW Farm is a 1.5 acre student-powered urban farm & educational facility located on the University of Washington’s Seattle Campus.
 

In the past month I finally had the opportunity to volunteer with the University of Washington Farm. I'm proud to say, even in the city of Seattle, college students can learn how food is grown and then processed for food banks, UW campus dining, and community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes.

Sorting tomatoes for CSA bags
My volunteer shift started by learning about the sanitization process for harvesting produce. We all had to wash our hands, then cutting tools and food collection bins were dipped in a weak bleach solution. The bins could not touch the ground, so while we harvested the collection bins rested inside larger bins that sat on the ground. If the cutting tools touched the ground, they were re-sanitized before they could be used again. We also could not use gloves because they can't be cleaned well enough.

A boar tomato I was able to bring home
Our first assignment was harvesting cabbages which took little time, but was dirty without gloves! Then it was on to rows and rows of various tomatoes. I learned that crows attack red things, so any red variety of tomato was harvested before fully mature. Some tomatoes had ripened in the past few days and were indeed pecked by crows.

I learned there are two types of tomato plants: determinate and indeterminate (potatoes, too!). Determinate (bush) tomato plants are bred to stop growing usually somewhere around 3′-4′ feet tall. When flowers blossom at the tips of the branches, the plant has reached its full height.

Indeterminate tomato plants are tall and require staking or caging as they keep growing taller and taller all season. They produce fruits over a long period and in tropical climates or heated greenhouses, produce continuously. When grown outside they’re usually mid-season to late types.

Source
All through the rows of tomato plants, purslane was growing and is often included in the CSA boxes along with recipes on how it can be used. Purslane is a vegetable rich in omega-3 fatty acids and can easily establish itself throughout a garden. 

 

 

It was a great experience, though I'd expected to be able to wear gloves for harvesting and it took days to get dirt out from under my nails. 😀

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