Category Archives: University Farm

University Farm shares harvest to alleviate food insecurity

The University Farm at N.C. A&T has donated 1,308 pounds of produce worth about $3,205 to community hunger relief agencies this year, and is still harvesting.  Working through Share the Harvest, Backpack Beginnings, the Bonner Center for Community Learning at Guilford College and other community groups, the farm has provided fresh produce to as many as 16 agencies in and around Greensboro, where food insecurity remains high.

The farm’s surplus can be used to alleviate that problem, says John Beck, horticulture unit coordinator at the farm and program associate for Cooperative Extension. Last year, the farm provided 5,738 pounds of produce worth about $12,700.

Although the farm’s primary mission is still to provide vegetables and small fruit crops for applied research and demonstration, a fair amount of the harvest is always left over. Beck and farm support staff  harvest, weigh and package the crops for Share the Harvest and other agencies to pick up.

Thanks to the farm’s high tunnels, the harvest continues to flow even when the plants’ traditional growing seasons are over, offering: mustard greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, pac choi, salad mix, chard, eggplant, basil, pea shoots and even strawberries.

That’s good news for a city that has 17 identified food deserts, in which residents have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and one of the highest overall food insecurity ratings in the country, according to a 2015 report by the Food Research and Action Center.

For people in need, every little bit adds up. If one person consumed one pound of fresh produce each day, the farm’s 2015 donations would be enough to provide 16 people with enough fresh fruits and vegetables for an entire year, according to the farm’s donation report.

“The goal is to target food insecurity,” Beck says. “We are pleased to be able to help.”

Two for the road at University Farm

The CAES bid farewell to close to a century of knowledge and experience, with a retirement celebration for Harold L. Martin and Peter Burnette on Nov. 23 at the University Farm. CAES representatives that ranged from student farmhands to the interim dean, former dean and associate dean, were on hand to fete the two long-time agricultural experts.

Martin, not to be confused with A&T’s chancellor of the same name, retired in August after a 44-year tenure, which included several years as the farm’s superintendent and most recently as research operations manager at the farm. Burnette, an agricultural research 161123retirement066edaassistant, is retiring with 40 years’ experience.

“These guys definitely exhibit all that is Aggie Pride,” Interim Dean Shirley Hymon-Parker said. “They have provided 84 years’ exemplary service to N.C. A&T and the CAES, in particular. You’ve given so much of yourselves on behalf of the university. Replacing you is going to be almost impossible.’’

Leon Moses, who succeeded Martin as farm superintendent, credited his predecessor for helping implement many of the improvements that—as one speaker put it—elevated the University Farm from mom-and-pop status to a full-fledged research operation. Moses also said that Burnette’s penchant for perfection ensured that the farm would operate in orderly fashion.

“I love these guys,” Moses said. “We have been through something together.”161123retirement030eda

Dr. Alton Thompson, executive director of the Association of Research Directors of 1890 Land-Grant Universities and a former CAES dean, noted that Burnette and Martin were “not just farm workers, but part of the research team” that brought commensurate expertise to projects at the farm. Several other speakers lauded the two men not only for their strong work ethics, but also the individual personality quirks that personified the way they approached their jobs: Burnett, quiet, even-keeled and a stickler for details; Martin, laid back but a bulldog when it came to completing tasks – or hunting.

“It hasn’t all been easy, but it’s been a … lot of fun,” Martin said. “We didn’t always agree and we didn’t always leave here agreeing, but we always came back the next morning regardless of what it was.”

Burnette said: “We all grew up on farms. We don’t mind working because that’s what we all grew up doing. Here, we came in to work and did what we needed to do and took pride in it.”