Raleigh, N.C. — A beautiful spring day means a busy morning on the farm for students at North Carolina State University.
They're planting basil, eggplant and other produce at the Agroecology Education Farm, 6 acres off Lake Wheeler Road where students study the best ways to grow food without harming the environment.
The farm is designed to show that small, sustainable plots can provide better, local choices for fresh food.
“Here, we use organic fertilizers and organic methods. We try to reduce tillage on the soils,” crop science professor Michelle Schroeder-Moreno said.
Much of last year’s bounty went to the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle in Raleigh, providing needy families with healthy, fresh produce.
This year, N.C. State students also will eat from these fields. Almost a third of the university's food comes from local sources. Starting this summer, some of that food is going to come from the campus farm.
Students say the future of agriculture lies with small plots like the Agroecology Education Farm.
“Agriculture in the United States is very large,” farm manager Stephen Ratasky said. “We can do things on a smaller scale and a more local scale.”
Added Shroeder-Moreno: “We will not be able to sustain ourselves if we don't care for the environment, care about the economics, keep farmers in business.”
She hopes the farm helps train the next generation of farmers to feed their local communities. A planting event will be held Saturday for volunteers to work and learn more about the farm, which is next to Yates Mill County Park. Learn more about the event online.