Food Literacy Project Tours Local Farm

Lexi M Del Toro

John Wilson informs students about the long history of Wilson Farms in Lexington on Monday in Lexington, Massachusetts. Students toured the 33 acre farm with the Food Literacy Project at Harvard Dining Services.

Harvard students basked in the fragrance of freshly-baked cider doughnuts and roamed through rows of crops with produce that will later be served in Harvard dining halls during an excursion to the Wilson Farm on Friday.

Organized by the Food Literacy Project, the trip provided students the opportunity to tour the farm of one of Harvard University Dining Services’ local partners and learn about their growing practices.

Wilson Farm, a family-run operation dating back to the 1800s, provides HUDS with 40,000 pounds of carrots a year.

The tour was led by Wilson Farm employee Heather Aveson, who said that a lot of people who visit the farm are concerned about “organic products.”

“Personally, I would rather know where my food comes from,” Aveson said. “It’s all about the chain of custody.”

Aveson traced the process the produce goes through at the farm—from beginning as seeds in the soil to being picked, washed, and refrigerated before being sold on the stand.

“It’s important to me because I wouldn’t want to feed my family anything I don’t feel good about,” Aveson said.

The tour concluded at the farm stand, where students shopped the Wilson’s selection of produce, cheeses, and other farm-fresh offerings. Students ate from boxes of Wilson’s signature cider doughnuts during the shuttle ride back to campus.

But the allure of fresh doughnuts was not the only reason some students decided to venture out to the farm. Yuan Jiang ’16 said she thought the tour would help her de-stress from a long week.

Rhema Hokama, a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, said her vegan lifestyle inspired her to learn more about local farming practices.

Louisa C. Denison ’11, coordinator for the Food Literacy Project, said that the model of partnering with local farms is not a new practice for HUDS. In 2008, HUDS created a unique partnership with Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon, Mass., in which HUDS would buy all the squash grown on a quarter of an acre planted specifically for them, according to Denison.

“This program has worked very well over the past five years, the result being that Harvard students enjoy a great variety of local squash on the dining menu,” Denison wrote in an email to The Crimson.

According to Crista Martin, the HUDS director for marketing and communications, HUDS serves 25,000 meals a day and requires 700 pounds of vegetables just for one dinner for undergraduates.

“Not many farms can devote space to that kind of volume,” Martin said. “So we go to larger farms and say, ‘In this year, we are likely to use this many pounds of this vegetable. Can you grow it for us?’”

Peter Szigeti, a student at Harvard Law School who said he is interested in the intersection of food and property law, said he thought the trip provided a good educational opportunity.

“I also thought it was cheap, fun, and that there would be good food,” Szigeti said.

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