Photos by Kat Seal.
Tigers for Community Agriculture, Sustain Mizzou’s gardening group, have sold 324 pounds of lettuce, chard and broccoli to MU Campus Dining Services and the University Club in just one month. The journey from seed to students resulted entirely from student volunteer efforts.
In early February, the students started romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, leek, onion and broccoli seed in the campus green house. Volunteers then transplanted the sprouts into hoop houses at Bradford Research and Extension Center and carpooled there to water it periodically. They used a drip-tape watering system, which waters at the roots and conserves water. There’s also a commercial benefit: “You don’t have water spots on the lettuce so it looks better when you try to sell them,” says Monica Everett, a project volunteer who has been with TCA since its inception in 2010. The group also sold 60 pounds of greens to the University Club, a higher-end dining establishment at the Alumni Center.
Setting up the business plan was surprisingly simple: they asked CDS to buy their produce. “After marching into the kitchen offices of the Student Center (not knowing what we were doing), we brought [sous chef] Jeremy out to the Ford Explorer,” says Kat Seal, project volunteer and former Sustain Mizzou president. “He looked at the lettuce and said, ‘we’d take it all.’”
TCA has other produce coming up for harvest, including peppers, spinach, carrots and tomatoes. They plan to sell it to the aforementioned businesses, as well as Centro Latino. All profit goes back to building the program and its assets.