UT students aim to educate, sell fresh vegetables in first farm stand of the year

Jasleen Shokar

Students from the UT Microfarm will sell produce on a weekly basis for the first time this year.

The microfarm, a student-run project focused on producing locally grown food using sustainable farming techniques, will sell fresh produce on the West Mall from 3 to 5 p.m. every Monday starting Jan. 24 in an effort to connect more students with its produce. This is the first year the farm has committed to weekly food stands instead of stands three or four times a semester.

The project, a feature of the Campus Environmental Center, is a student organization in the Office of Sustainability started in 2012.

“I joined in 2013, pretty soon after I came to UT, and I knew absolutely nothing,” said Stephanie Hamborsky, CEC co-director and developing director of the microfarm. “I’m from a suburb in Houston and was completely disconnected from my food.”

Hamborsky said the microfarm tries to create an understanding of the farming process for students.

“People romanticize [farming] a lot, and after they learn more about their food and where it comes from, they realize how much work it really is,” Hamborsky said.

“You can really minimize labor nowadays, but it does still require a lot of time and effort.”

Veggies featured this week included broccoli, dino kale, carrots, cauliflower, snap peas, radishes, a variety of herbs and mustard greens.

“I came [to the stand] because my friend is involved, and I wanted to give her some company,” psychology senior Ramiro Castillo said. “But I didn’t know you could buy this much kale for two dollars. More people should be informed about this.”

Hamborsky said locally sourced food benefits both the local economy and the farmer.

“Farmers have no say over market pricing,” Hamborsky said. “Companies set the pricing and can pick which farmers they want to use.”

In addition to providing access to fresh produce, one of the goals of the farm is to show students where food comes from.

“Educating people about organic produce and the use of sustainable farming practices is important,” said Alex Lord, farm stand and social media intern. “Farming isn’t only limited to rural areas — you can do it anywhere with any amount of space.”

Castillo said he feels everyone benefits from the resources provided by the microfarm.

“It seems like it helps everyone,” said Castillo. “It helps the students running this organization and those who are consuming the food. It’s mutually beneficial.”