By Jasmine Smith, Feb. 9, 2021
This semester, Discovery Farm at Cal Poly Pomona AGRIscapes launched the Farm Box — a convenient way for the community to pick up fresh campus produce without the fear of contracting or spreading coronavirus.
Farm Box is as simple as it sounds, a box filled with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that are campus grown. The seasonal produce inside varies from week to week, and customers can customize their orders to what best suits their preferences online.
Produce boxes are not new to AGRIscapes, Farm Box is a reformatted version of the Poly Pack a 2016 program, however, it’s not subscription-based and is sold weekly unlike Poly Pack.
The idea to revamp to create Farm Box began after the pandemic prevented visitors from picking their own fruits and vegetables, causing there to be an abundance of produce. AGRIscapes concluded that it would be beneficial to the market to sell the produce, minimizing food waste in the process.
“I think Farm Box was a good idea,” said Natalie Padilla, a second-year history student and Farm Store employee. “It’s really resourceful to reach the community and those who are afraid to go grocery shopping right now.”
Following health and safety restrictions, Farm Box purchases are only available by curbside pickup on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at South Campus on Temple Avenue. The boxes are loaded into cars and customers don’t have to get out of their vehicles.
AGRIscapes also offers Farm Box subscriptions and gift certificates for friends and family members. The program currently has a steady mail-in list of customers comprised of CPP staff, alumni and families in the community.
Currently, the maximum number of boxes that can be sold weekly is 15 due to limited staff on hand for packing; however, arrangements can be made if there are more than 15 orders by ensuring that there is enough produce on the field and that additional student workers have completed safety training.
“I am very proud. I’m surprised at how many people have continued to order boxes or walk up and want to learn about Farm Box and then place an order,” said AGRIscapes Outreach Coordinator Veronica Grant. “It has been very exciting creating this and seeing such a positive reaction.”
Along with Farm Box’s success, student workers are able to receive a greater hands-on experience for what it’s like working in agriculture and expand their knowledge. Farm Box is aiding in students’ education and selling fresh produce to the community.
When revamping the Farm Box AGRIscapes took this as an opportunity to take chances that were originally pushed back due to lack of time and uncertainty. Selling products online has been a new daunting task that has received a lot of positive feedback.
“Our mission is to promote agriculture literacy by teaching the community where their food is coming from,” said AGRIscapes Director Craig Walters. “Coronavirus pushed us into markets that we wanted to do, but were not entirely sure and caused us to adapt.” Though produce boxes are not new to AGRIscapes Farm Box unlike past boxes is not subscription-based and packages boxes every week. Farm Box has now become a permanent AGRIscapes program to continue the mission of informing and providing the community.
For more information about Farm Box, students can visit: https://cppdiscoveryfarm.com/farm-box-2/
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