By Sarvary Koller ’15
Senior Engineering major Alyssa Setnar rode her bike to the CUE farm stand on Thursday to pick up some fresh fruit.
“It’s a two-minute bike ride from my house, closer than any grocery store,” Setnar said. “It’s actually less expensive than the produce at the store, and I know where and how it was grown.”
Setnar is one of about 20-40 Butler University students, faculty and community members who come to the stand to purchase local organic produce grown at the CUE farm, a sustainable agriculture project created by the Butler Center for Urban Ecology.
The farm, located on campus by the intramural fields across from the Butler Prairie, was started in 2010 to promote student education and experience with organic farming practices and environmental awareness.
Each Thursday afternoon from early June to late October, the farm sells its produce to the Butler and neighboring communities. Farm Manager Tim Dorsey said the farm stand has come a long way since he took over in mid-2011.
“I used to feel like I didn’t know if we should even set these tables up,’” Dorsey said, “but now I’m really satisfied with the traffic we get. It’s a lot of students, too. I’d say almost 25 percent students.”
In addition to selling produce to the public, 18 community members receive packages of assorted produce through a Community-Supported Agriculture program that allows members of the community to invest in the local farm project.
They pay a stipend at the beginning of the summer for a season’s worth of produce.
“It’s a way the community can share in the risk and reward of small farming,” Dorsey said. “It was created to lessen the burden on farmers by providing working capital right at the beginning of the season.”
The CUE farm uses this capital to grow a variety of produce with the help of four student interns.
Julia Wilson, a junior double-majoring in Biology and Science, Technology and Society, joined as an intern in May and spent the summer planting seeds, harvesting produce, and pulling lots of weeds. She said her experience at the farm has given her an appreciation for small farming and the process of growing one’s own food.
“It’s a great thing to have here,” Wilson said. “If you’re a student, it’s right on campus, so that’s awesome. You can drive to the store and buy produce that comes from really far away, but this is all natural food that is grown right here.”
The CUE farm offers a wide array of fruits and vegetables, from summer favorites like raspberries, tomatoes, and melons to hearty vegetables like swiss chard, broccoli, and asparagus. More obscure produce is also available, such as curly cress, salsify and kohlrabi.
Dorsey said he encourages all to come experience the offerings at the farm stand and support student education.
“We want to be a model for urban farming in Indy,” he said. “We really look to get students involved, and we are in the process of growing our programming. Anyone who shops here supports us in that.”