Community members will now have the option of receiving a weekly box of fresh vegetables with the launch of a new membership program offered by students studying regenerative organic agriculture.

Referred to as community-supported agriculture (CSA), the membership program entails pre-purchasing a share of the produce that the farm will grow this season.

A $320 membership will provide members with $400 worth of produce during the 16-week growing season. Shares will include over 40 different kinds of vegetables throughout the season, such as lettuce, spinach, seasonal salad mixes, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, broccoli, peas, culinary herbs, and even flowers.

The CSA will launch the week of June 18, and 20 memberships will be available. Those interested may email sustainableliving@mum.edu or call Heather Walden at (641) 472-1164.

The produce from the student farm this summer will also be sold at the Fairfield farmers market and onsite at Cambridge Investment Research, Inc.

“The aim of the program is to provide scientific knowledge and hands-on experience in regenerative organic agriculture,” said professor A. Thimmaiah, who directs the program. “This is the agriculture of the future. We want our students to be changemakers when they graduate and create islands of organic agriculture wherever they go.”

There are currently five students in the program, including Hemanth Kumar Reddy Mukka, who worked in the agrochemical industry in India for seven years, selling fertilizers and pesticides to farmers. 

He gave up his job and enrolled at MUM to study organic agriculture.

“Every time I talked to farmers, they just worried about pests and sprayed what we gave them without knowing about its effect on the environment,” he said. “They needed to survive and they didn’t have a choice. I didn’t have any alternatives to offer them. If conventional farming continues the way it’s going, we may not have any resources left for the next generation.”

He was able to enroll at MUM with the help of a full scholarship from the Sarojini Damodaran Foundation, established by Mr. and Mrs. Shibulal. Again next year, the foundation will continue to offer MUM 10 full scholarships to economically challenged students from India.

“We have an amazing group of students,” Dr. Thimmaiah said. “They are very interested in the subtler aspects of agriculture, such as biodynamic agriculture and Maharishi Vedic Organic Agriculture.”

The CSA team includes farm managers Kris Johnson and Steve McLaskey, who have planned the sequence of crops so that customers get seasonal vegetables throughout the 16 weeks.

Rick Ryerse is managing the accounts, and Heather Walden is focused on marketing. Also contributing to the enterprise is Yael Ya’ar.

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