Each Friday, the Big Red Farm organizes a farmer’s market in front of the Kirby Arts Center where they sell their goods and produce including hot sauce, fresh vegetables, and honey. The market, organized by Farm Manager Ian MacDonald, is run by students who are participants in the Big Red Farm co-curricular this Fall Term.
“[The market is] more about connecting with the Lawrenceville community rather than making sales,” MacDonald said. While hosting the market each week is helpful in raising money for the farm’s budget, the experience of selling the goods is enjoyable as well. “I like to see people enjoy the food we produce at the farm, and I love seeing the farm crew feel a sense of reward when their hard work puts a smile on someone’s face,” he explained.
This is not to say that organizing the market does not come with its fair share of challenges. “It’s a very time-consuming event…It takes a good amount of effort to get everything here on campus, set it all up, and have it look nice,” MacDonald said. He especially spends a significant portion of time working to ensure that the stand is “attractive,” because “people always like their food to look good.”
Alistair Lam ’23, a member of the Big Red Farm crew and the School’s Sustainability Representative, shares a similar view on the farmer’s market, believing it to be a “good way to connect with the community.” Aside from that, he feels that the market allows the Big Red Farm to become more accessible to the students and faculty. “It’s not often that people get to walk out to the farm, so the market makes it convenient for anyone to drop by and take a look at the produce we’ve grown and harvested,” Lam said.
Claire Chow ’24 echoed this sentiment, viewing the farmer’s market as a “fun experience” because the Big Red Farm crew has the opportunity to talk to students, faculty, and even parents on campus about their work. “We try to make our presentation as visually appealing as possible, but even if it doesn’t turn out well, the products we sell make up for it,” she said.
One of their most popular products is the Big Red Farm hot sauce, which is made from peppers grown by the farm crew. MacDonald noted that another successful product this year was tomatoes, as they “finally got the timing right” for planting them. The farm also has three beehives for producing honey. “We’re even hoping to make maple syrup this winter using the maple from the trees on campus,” Lam noted.
From a sustainability standpoint, the farm crew makes sure to implement environmentally-friendly practices. By avoiding all chemicals and chemical fertilizers, the Big Red Farm volunteers are preserving the quality of the farm’s soil and practicing regenerative agriculture. “This is because there is a whole system of amazing microbial life inside the soil that we cannot see, which is essential for plant growth and maintaining healthy soil,” Lam elaborated.
Chow noted that the farm’s sustainable practices also “inspire the school community” as a whole to make an effort in becoming more sustainable.
Still, the Big Red Farm’s main goal is to provide food for the School’s dining halls. “I don’t want to reduce the amount of produce that goes to the dining hall by expanding the market, so I think we’ll keep it the way it is,” MacDonald elaborated.