Local Farmers, Agriculture Showcased at UF Community Garden

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The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences held an event Wednesday to showcase local farmers and its new Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. The event was also sponsored by the Agronomy Teaching Farm and Student Agricultural Gardens.

The UF teaching farm, located at 2024 IFAS Research Drive in Gainesville, will begin a CSA pickup every Thursday. Residents can pay for a membership and collect fresh produce every week, said Anna Prizzia, UF gardening club adviser and co-organizer of the event.

Prizzia, 37, said the highlight of the event was to support local farmers and inform people about the various opportunities to get involved with the farm.

The event included tabling by student organizations and local farmers, samples of tea and produce and a beekeeping demonstration.

Max Duncan, who attended as part of the Gator Gardening Club, put on a bee suit to get close to the hives available for the guests to interact with.

The 19-year-old genetics major approached the bees carefully to observe them but was wary of holding one of the slots from inside of the hive – it was teeming with bees woozy from smoke.

Duncan said Gator Gardening is restructuring as they move from the previous student garden, located off Museum Road, to the new space where the event was held. It also plans on partnering with other clubs in the larger space as well as contributing to the CSA program by making food baskets.

Another co-organizer, Judy Dampier, 54, said one of the goals of the event was to educate the public on local food systems and for people to gain a passion for agriculture.

“Our ultimate goal is to turn this and the student agricultural gardens into a big conglomerate showing different shares of agriculture, from commercial agriculture scales to what you can do in your own backyard,” she said.

 Kristin Balko, 20, president of the Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Club at UF, said her club accepts people from all majors, regardless of whether they’ve ever gardened before.

“There’s no such thing as a green thumb,” she said. “You just have to pay attention to your plants.”

Eileen Wickens, 7, looks at a bee that landed on her hand at the UF Community Garden Wednesday. The garden hosted an event to bring focus to local farmers and its new Community Supported Agriculture program.

Eileen Wickens, 7, stays still while her father takes a picture of the bee on her hand at the UF Community Garden’s event Wednesday.

Chase Kimmel, 30, gives a beekeeping demonstration at a UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences event Wednesday.

Chase Kimmel, 30, and Jared Makatura, 19, observe bees at a UF IFAS event Wednesday. The event was held at the new teaching and community garden off Hull Road in Gainesville.

Owner of Siembra Farm, Cody Galligan, 35, displays some of his crops at the UF IFAS event Wednesday afternoon.

About Cassidy Whitson

Cassidy is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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