UMD Greenhouse Sprouting Seeds

Posted at: 05/08/2013 9:43 PM
Updated at: 05/08/2013 10:15 PM
By: Maarja Anderson

It might finally be feeling like Spring, but the UMD Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP) is seeing the results of the long Northland winter. Last year they produced 20,000 pounds of produce for the campus dining hall, but this season is starting a little slower.

The SAP greenhouse is located at UMD's Natural Resources Research Institute. Right now, they have 7,000 seedlings of 50 different kinds of vegetables waiting for planting.

"We are in the seedling stage. We are taking the seeds and sprouting them...and hopefully in a few weeks we will be transplanting the seedlings," said student farm manager, Kevin Moris.

SAP is a way for students to get their hands a little dirty while learning about fresh food. Randel Hanson is the professor behind the green operation.

"We grow produce with students and that gets sold to Dining Services and that helps the Dining Services move towards a local food system,' said Hanson.

In their third year, SAP is expanding with more students and more land. Last year, they had over 1,000 students visit their farm. But this long Northland winter has set them back planting.

"We are long overdue to be in the field. Last year, we were working out in the field in early to mid-March and here we are two months later,' said Hanson.

Despite the snowy April, SAP hopes to yield more produce than they did last year.

"It was a phenomenal year. After the farm dried up after the flood, it really just took off and we had great production," said Moris.

The late Spring was nerve-racking for the students, but Hanson said it's just another lesson in the greenhouse.

"It's a learning process for students and us in terms of how we can respond to the changes that nature is always bringing us," said Hanson.