Starting this Thursday, you can stop by the University of Illinois Quad and shop for fresh veggies.
This week you can shop for lettuce, spinach and other salad greens, herbs like cilantro and basil and bok choy.
Produce from the UI's Sustainable Student Farm will be for sale from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursdays behind the Illini Union.
If there's not enough traffic during that time, the hours may change to 3 to 6 p.m., UI Professor Bruce Branham said.
Thanks to "hoop houses," also called high tunnels or greenhouse kits, tomatoes and possibly peppers will be available starting at the end of this month and again after outdoor production of tomatoes has ceased, he said.
The farm, made up of 3 acres and about 10,000 square feet of hoop houses, is a joint venture of the UI Department of Crop Sciences, the UI Student Sustainability Committee and UI Dining Services. The group started selling produce on the Quad last fall.
The operation has not turned a profit yet, so any money earned from the sale goes to help pay expenses, Branham said.
The farm has one full-time employee, two student interns in the summer and a volunteer work force to help with planting, harvesting and other jobs. If you're interested in volunteering, visit the farm's site, http://thefarm.illinois.edu.
The farm stand is expected to operate into early November.
Branham said farm organizers decided to hold a farm stand on the Quad after being approached by Illini Union staff. Organizers saw it as an opportunity to serve the campus community and sell produce at a time when dining services may not need all the produce being harvested on the farm. This year the farm is growing some produce specifically for the farm stand.
"It's all vegetables at this point. ... We do have the intention of planting fruit in the future," Branham said. They're also working on possible arrangements with faculty members who have fruit research control plots. Some fruit from those plots could be sold at the farm stand this fall.
The Sustainable Student Farm was created through a grant from the Student Sustainability Committee and support from UI Dining Services, the Department of Crop Sciences, and the Student Sustainability Committee.