I arrived at the Duke Campus Farm yesterday afternoon ready to work the land by the sweat of my brow. The one-acre fruit and vegetable farm, which provides healthy produce to several Duke University dining halls during the school year and to the greater Durham community during the summer months, is a place where students, faculty, staff, and members of the community can learn about food…and get their hands (or gloves, rather) dirty in the process.
Although not certified organic, the Duke Campus Farm uses all natural practices including no chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides, and no genetically modified seed. As well, they subscribe to a no-till agricultural practice that minimizes soil disruption, and they strive to use as few outside inputs as possible to cut down on cost and to increase sustainability.
My task yesterday was to weed garden rows where okra and corn had been harvested. I quickly learned that the Duke Campus Farm uses the oldest and surest method for removing weeds: old-fashioned hand weeding. Alongside other willing “farmhands,” I pulled up unwanted clover and sprigs of grass from the dark, rich soil. It was enjoyable work that at the same time yielded great results.
If you live in or around Durham, North Carolina, consider heading out to the farm on Thursdays or Sundays from 4-6PM to help plant, harvest, weed, and discover a place where work equals fun.