Wickliffe Shreve and his husband, Craig, didn’t know what to do with kohlrabi when they first enrolled in the Duke Campus Farm community supported agriculture program several years ago.
But they now know exactly how to prepare the cabbage like vegetable when they picked up their share – a box of produce – from the farm at Sarah P. Duke Gardens.
“We love shredding it into salads,” said Wickliffe, reference librarian lecturing fellow for Duke University School of Law. “It adds a little bit of spice and crunch.”
The Shreve's box of produce is one of 66 boxes Duke Campus Farm prepares every week for its community supported agriculture (CSA) program. Subscribers pick up their weekly box of produce from Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Duke University School of Nursing or Smith Warehouse.
You can get your own box during the seasonal offerings through the Duke Mobile Farmers Market, organized by LIVE FOR LIFE, Duke’s employee wellness organization. The Duke Campus Farm CSA runs in the spring, summer and fall.
“Enrolling in a CSA is a healthy and sustainable option on many levels,” said Cassandra Callas, health education specialist for LIVE FOR LIFE and manager of the Mobile Farmers Market. “The Duke Campus Farm is great because they abide by sustainable practices that promote wellbeing of the environment.”
See how the Duke Campus Farm boxes come together:
Emily McGinty, assistant program manager for Duke Campus Farm, plants squash and zucchini at the end of April. It typically takes 35 to 45 days for the vegetable to bloom.
“We like to make sure we’re giving our customers a variety of produce,” McGinty said. “We try to mix it up with familiar produce and some crops that might be new to them.”
The squash and zucchini were harvested in the beginning of June and packed for subscribers to enjoy at home.
On a rain-soaked morning in May, Emily McGinty collects pink-stemmed Swiss chard for the CSA boxes..
“The moisture works in our benefit because vegetables are easier to pull from the ground,” she said. “There’s a lot of unpredictability when it comes to farm work that requires a high amount of adaptability.”
After harvesting, McGinty trimmed the edges of the plant so they’re more convenient for bunching.
Leslie Wolverton, field education manager for Duke Campus Farm, slices off the roots of green onions.
“Boots and a willingness to get a little dirty are two of the more important things to have in farming,” she said.
Saskia Cornes, farm and program director and assistant professor of the practice at the Duke Franklin Humanities Institute, packs sugar snap peas on a Friday morning in May.
Cornes sorted through the peas to remove those that weren’t ready to be eaten. Customers received a pound of the vegetable in their boxes.
“Sugar snap peas are great to snack on,” she said. “They have a nice crunch to them that can be addicting.”
A bag of mixed greens is cleaned in a washing machine Duke Campus Farm repurposed to rinse produce.
“We have to come up with a little bit of ingenuity sometimes,” Leslie Wolverton said. “It’s faster than us handwashing every piece of lettuce.”
At the farm, Emily McGinty fills boxes with kohlrabi ahead of distribution on a Friday morning.
Duke Campus Farm distributes about 26 boxes from noon to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays in Smith Warehouse.
“This always feels like a dance of vegetables,” she said. “It’s like farming gymnastics.”
Emily McGinty hands Wickliffe Shreve, left, and Craig Shreve, right, their box at Sarah P. Duke Gardens on a recent afternoon.
“Farmer-customer relationships are the core of CSA,” she said. “It’s one of the biggest perks of this job to get to know the people who support our program.”