From the farm to the HSC

UF COM students host Community Supported Agriculture farmer panel.

Medical students at UF can eat healthier locally, while supporting Gainesville-area farmers.

The college’s Sustainability Interest Group hosted a Farmer Lunch panel at 12 p.m. Sept. 6 for students to find out more about the Gator Community Support Agriculture program. CSA farmers talked about their operations, some of which are certified organic or pesticide free, and answered students’ questions.

“We have a CSA drop-off at the medical school,” said Kimi Swartz, the Sustainability Interest Group member who organized the panel.

Launched in fall 2010 by the university’s Office of Sustainability, the CSA program allows local consumers to pay a set amount of money at the start of the season to one of four member farms and, in return, they regularly receive a box of seasonal fresh fruits, vegetables, canned goods and other farm products at a CSA drop off point on campus.

CSA farmer Jordan Brown, who operates The Family Garden Organic Farm in Bell, Fla., described the CSA as “a subscription program. You are subscribing to a farm.”

The medical school CSA drop-off has about 60 members, Swartz said, and is located at the Academic Research Building, off Center Drive. The other campus drop-off is at Bledsoe Drive, near the Southwest Recreation Center.

The college’s Sustainability Interest Group will have a share splitting program that organizes individual students in a group to share one CSA box, Swartz said. It will also add a bin to allow students to exchange produce items with each other. Students who miss their pickup have their share donated to the local Ronald McDonald House, she said.

Amy Van Scoik, who operates Frog Song Organics, said a CSA gives a person a relationship with a local farmer and allows them to eat based on the natural season.

Subscribers should like to cook and be willing to try new recipes and ways to cook vegetables and other produce, the farmers said. The cost of a CSA share varies by farm. Typically, a CSA season lasts about 30 weeks, running from the fall through the spring.

“It’s my belief that a vegetable-based diet is a very healthful diet and that is what we’re trying to promote,” Brown said.