I just took a bite of an Easter Egg radish grown in the high tunnels adjacent to the Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center. Horticultural Production Coordinator Jake Uretsky had harvested and cleaned bunches of these beautiful radishes just moments before handing one to me.
Dusty rose in color with luminous white flesh, it had the diameter of a half-dollar and was as juicy as an Asian pear. While predominantly sweet, this radish also had both the slightly pungent and astringent flavors characteristic of vegetables in the Brassicaceae family. Though I had never done so with a radish in the past, I ate this one up in three bites like a perfect little apple – it was so fresh and delicious.
Students in the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems (SAFS) major in the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture (COLSA) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), who are enrolled in the Food Production Field Experience course, will be working with SAFS lecturer Andrew Ogden to gain real-world farm-to-fork experience that enable them to grow greens, root vegetables, and onions for the Dairy Bar restaurant. “Students learn in an experiential fashion about all aspects of running a sustainable farming operation from crop planning, crop production methods, post-harvest practices, marketing, social media promotion, special event planning and execution, and business management,” says Ogden.
Jake Uretsky harvesting the crops, still thriving at the end of November.
Even at the end of November, greens like Red Russian Kale, arugula, Tatsoi, Red Mustard, Mizuna, spinach, beet tops continue to thrive in the high tunnels, surpassing Uretsky’s expectations. “I believe we will easily meet and exceed the needs of the Dairy Bar,” says Uretsky. “Our biggest challenge will probably be moderating our production, so produce is ready in smaller batches, when it is needed. My hope is after we get some of our systems down, we will all be surprised at how much is produced here.”
If you can, head over to the Dairy Bar to enjoy a fresh salad created with truly local produce cultivated by students before the extended growing season for greens winds down in the depths of winter. Between then and now, you may also find some of these gorgeous greens at the salad bar in Holloway Commons since any surplus produce from the high tunnels will augment your selection there.
- Victoria Forester Courtland