Student Farm provides fresh produce to residents of White Course Apartments

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania – Penn State students living in White Course apartments have a unique opportunity to experience the work of student farm Dr. Keiko Miwa Ross.

In a collaboration that began last summer, the Student Farm, a unit of student affairs, donates a portion of its surplus produce to White Course after the weekly harvest. Residents are invited to take the products free of charge.

Residence Life Coordinator Greg Tyrrell collects produce from the student farm every Thursday and brings it back to the Weston Community Center in White Course. He said the product is usually claimed within the hour.

Leslie Pillen, associate director of agriculture and food systems, said the student farm typically donates its leftover produce to Lion’s Pantry. But because the pantry gets fewer visitors when students return home during the summer, Pillen felt that White Course — mostly housing graduate students and families — could use the extra produce.

“I think White Course is a great place to donate in the summer because a lot of the residents are either international students or students with families and kids, and they’re here often in the summer,” Pillen said.

After a successful test, Tyrrell said the collaboration took off and is expected to continue for as long as the growing season lasts.

“It’s really popular. We waste nothing and it benefits the community,” Tyrrell said. “We like fresh produce. It’s convenient and the food is expensive. College is expensive. It just gives us another avenue to help support each other.

Tyrrell said he loves “seeing the excitement people get when they hear there’s fresh produce.”

“One thing I really appreciate about this collaboration is that it helps put food on the table for those who can benefit from it and need it,” he said.

According to Pillen, the collaboration also contributes to the student farm’s goals of avoiding food waste and fighting climate change.

“We waste almost 40% of our food in the United States, which is outrageous when you think about all the inputs needed to produce, transport, process, refrigerate and cook our food,” Pillen said. “Throwing away 40% is a lot. For us on the farm, we really try not to waste food.

This is not the first time that the Student Farm has worked with White Course. Because White Course has a community garden, Pillen said she donated seedlings from the student farm and held a gardening workshop with residents in May to teach them how to use the plots.

Moving forward, Tyrrell hopes the collaboration with the Student Farm will spark generosity and a sense of community among its residents.

“One of my favorite songs is called ‘The Circle of Life’, and one of the lyrics is ‘You should never take more than you give’,” he said. “I kind of hope this collaboration also inspires people to give when they can.”

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