UMD Dining: As Fresh as it Gets

    April 17, 2020

Written by Lynne Zhang, Fair Farms Intern

For the students at the University of Maryland-College Park, finding farm-fresh food can be as easy as walking to one of the three diners on campus, thanks to Terp Farm. Terp Farm is located 15 miles from the university on two acres at the Upper Marlboro Research and Education Center. The Farm prides itself on utilizing sustainable farming methods and engaging the community.

Terp Farms is part of the Department of Dining Services Green Dining Unit, established in 2014 to promote health and wellness for students. The farm’s manager, Guy Kilpatric, has a background in organic agriculture and operates the farm closely to the National Organic Program guidelines, even though it is not officially certified. The farm focuses on bio-intensive agriculture which includes using crop rotation, cover crops, and compost to preserve soil quality. The majority of the produce grown goes through the dining program with 5-10% being donated to those in need. For example, last year, all of the 2,000lbs of basil Terp Farms produced were used in the pesto at the campus diners. 

Terp Farm is able to engage with the over 9000 students with a meal plan every day and raise awareness about the importance of sustainable local agriculture. This “farm-to-institutional table” system delivers the university fresh produce the same day it’s harvested, cutting cost and emissions for redistribution and transportation. “The fundamental purpose is to convert the experience of student diners,” said Guy. Terp Farms also donates directly to the campus pantry and provides gleaning opportunities for other local food pantries.

The farm also serves as an educational opportunity for students. They offer both tours and internships, and they partner with faculty in the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources for course curriculums, providing students with practical farming experience.

When asked how consumers and students can help support sustainable farming, Guy mentioned his favorite quote from the author Wendell Berry: “Eating is an agricultural act.” 

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