Behind Miami University’s Marcum Center are two greenhouses. Both look old and worn down. Grimy windows are covered with declarations of love and graffiti written in sloppy handwriting. Behind locked doors are empty flower trays — the metal crates which used to hold green foliage are now home to spider webs and excess tools left behind.
In the weeks ahead, one of these buildings is scheduled to be destroyed. The other was saved by a push from ASG and a handful of student farmers.
At the end of last semester, Kyle Chance, director of the Miami Farm Market (MFM) organization, began an initiative to grow local produce for students.
The resolution remaining greenhouse will be used by MFM in a joint effort with the Institute for Food to produce vegetables for students to purchase, which they hope to start in the upcoming weeks
“If everything goes according to plan, our initiative will be cut greens: lettuces, spinach, etc.,” said Chance. “When we harvest it, we will then bring it to campus to sell.”
Since there are a limited amount of resources, Chance said the organization plans to operate on a Community Supported Agirculture model, selling produce on a subscription based process. There will be a list of students who have selected what share of vegetables they want, and there will be a specific location for them to pick up their share once it has been harvested.
“In our mind, this the most convenient way that we can provide fresh greens right now,” said Lucas Elfreich, ASG vice president and member of MFM. “We don’t have the logistics to deliver, so this is the next best thing. In all honesty, we want to make this an institutionalized thing so other students later can pick it up and run with it.”
Since last semester, the group has been tabling in the Armstrong Student Center.
“We are relying on word of mouth,” said Elfreich. “We have set up flyers, and we got a lot of hits at our table. But for right now, word of mouth has been getting us by.”
Advised by Peggy Shaffer, co-director for the Institute for Food, Chance sent a letter to President Gregory Crawford, asking for greenhouse space from March 5 to May 11.
While the greenhouses have previously been used as a staging area to landscape campus, Chance proposed they would be put to better use as a component of a student initiative to grow local food.
Chance and Elfreich, along with other students involved, met in ASG on the sustainability committee and have been working on the project for over a year.
“It is just a group of us students using it for a couple of weeks,” said Chance. “We are not really using their resources but just using the space to grow local food.”
Last semester, they ran a produce market at Armstrong once a week, where they would sell fresh produce, harvested the day before by the Institute for Food.
“While we have been lucky enough to be supported by student government, this is still a 100 percent grassroots students movement,” said Chance. “We just want to bring fresh, local, organic food right to the students where some students don’t really have too many options.”