Farmal enlivens rooftop garden with food, music and dancing

Farmers, food lovers and community members alike gathered around Farmers Club’s rooftop garden above Gerstenzang Science Library to partake in Farmal 2017, on the evening of Sunday, Oct. 1.

This year, Farmal offered a homemade dinner, live music and dancing. Farmal is an annual fall event hosted by Farmers Club in celebration of the fall harvest. The club strives to promote sustainable agriculture and organic produce.

The Farmers Club E-board

E-board members teamed up to create a delicious, healthy and fresh feast. For the non-Kosher menu, they made a salad with leafy greens, tomatoes, avocado and chickpeas, as well as shell pasta with a pumpkin sauce. The pasta dish contained nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and broccoli. The salad was light and refreshing, with perfectly ripe avocado. The pumpkin sauce on the pasta was such a pleasant surprise. Creating such a tasty pumpkin sauce without incorporating any dairy is seriously impressive. The meal concluded with carrot cake. The Farmers Club also brought in bread from the Waltham Farmer’s Market to accompany the pasta and salad, as well as apple cider to drink. Everything was vibrant and vegan!

Farmers Club additionally cooked food for those who keep Kosher. This menu consisted of vegan chili, vegan cornbread and a salad of leafy greens, tomatoes and peppers. Regardless of the meal, praises and compliments could be heard all around the rooftop of Gerstenzang.

Serving food at Farmal.

“On the farm, we grow a variety of leafy greens including kale, spinach and Swiss chard, as well as tomatoes, peppers, garlic and a variety of herbs… While most of the produce used was locally sourced, we were only able to use herbs grown on the garden to season the meal at Farmal—We really strive to send our produce to where it can have the largest impact, and the Friday preceding Farmal was our first big donation day of the season,” said On Campus Coordinator Lucy Wingard ’20. With the fall theme running through the meal, the warm weather and the amazing view of the vibrant garden, it wasn’t hard to start getting into the fall spirit at Farmal.

Rebecca Weiss’ ’18 live fiddle playing set a lovely mood for the event and was perfect for the evening’s contra dancing, which took place after everyone finished eating. Contra dancing is a type of folk dance that involves pairs of dancers that follow the caller’s instructions. Each participant gets to interact with several other dancers throughout, making for a fun way to combine movement and meeting new people.

“It’s a celebration for the end of our harvest… it’s just a great way to gather the community and introduce farming to people who might not know that much about it or just are super interested in farming,” said Farmers Club Treasurer Benee Hershon ’20.

“It’s a really unique opportunity to bring in sustainable local agriculture, arts… and culture… so it’s a really cool event in that its integrated arts, science and humanities,” said Farmers Club President Hannah Moshay ’18.

Since the weather gets colder in the fall, Farmers Club is safe to keep farming outside until the first frost. The club’s fall harvest consists of tolerant and robust produce including herbs, carrots, micro greens and leafy greens.

Once the weather starts getting worse, Farmers Club utilizes in-season extensions such as wire and tarp to protect the produce from frost. The club tries to stretch out the season as much as possible since being on a roof gives them the advantage of heat. In fact, last winter, Farmers Club still had carrots in the ground in the spring after all the snow had melted. The club is also in the process of getting a temporary greenhouse structure that could minimize the challenges of harsh weather later in the fall.

Farmers Club financially sustains itself through its farmer’s markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs and by selling some of its herbs to Sodexo. The club donates a share of its produce to several local partners: Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Boston, Grandma’s Pantry of the Christ Church Episcopal, SkinnyWheels Meals, Boston Area Gleaners and a few Brandeis Waltham Group programs.

You can get involved by attending farming hours, Farmers Club events, farmer’s markets with local vendors and the club’s own produce, as well as farm stands in the SCC on Fridays. Everything is grown and picked by fellow students.

Farming hours take place weekly on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Fridays from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Students do not need any prior experience to help out in the garden. Farming hours entail harvesting vegetables for the club’s CSA program or for donations, depending on the week. Newcomers can also help with weeding, planting and other tasks.

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