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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Tucson Village Farm keeps it fun and fresh

    Kelsee Becker
    Kelsee Becker / Arizona Daily Wildcat Produce within Tucson Village Farm features QR codes, offering customers nutritional information as well as recipes. Tucson Village Farm, on the NE corner of Campbell and Roger, reconnects young people to healthy lifestyles, teaching them how to grow and prepare fresh produce.

    A big red barn, smiling children with dirt under their nails and a whole lot of vegetables — this is the Tucson Village Farm.

    Here, youth in the Tucson community can not only learn about gardening and farming, but also put that knowledge to use through hands-on activities.

    Tucson Village Farm, located on Campbell Avenue between Roger Road and Limberlost Drive, is a program of the Pima County Cooperative Extension and the UA Agriculture and Life Sciences Department.

    “It’s an urban farm for kids, by kids,” said Elizabeth Sparks, an Arizona 4-H Youth Development assisstant agent for the Pima County Cooperative Extension. The idea for the farm came from the co-coordinator of Tucson Village Farm, Leza Carter.

    She wanted something different from a community garden, Sparks said.

    Tucson Village Farm offers everything from field trips to birthday parties to educational programs for preschool through high school students. There is even a Farm Camp in the summer, offered for two one-week sessions in June.

    “We get kids digging in the dirt, seeing how those carrots grow, eating them and loving them,” Sparks said. “It’s hard-pressed for kids to be able to trace their food past the aisle in Safeway.”

    Camp participants help grow kale, basil, summer squash, Armenian cucumbers and bell peppers, to name a few, as well as planting pumpkin seeds and popcorn kernels in the popcorn field. They also learn about farming and arid lands, harvest vegetables and wheat and even milk goats to make goat cheese, Sparks said. Finally, they make a pizza with all the foods they’ve grown and made in what Sparks calls a “seed-to-table experience.”

    Chad Personeus, UA a general studies senior, recently took his 4-year-old twin daughters to Tucson Village Farm for their birthday party.

    “Their reaction [to the farm] was more than enough to make a father proud who has been so involved with all things environmentally friendly and outdoors,” Personeus said. “The birthday party presented the opportunity to really see how TVF shines in what it really does for the community, if people take advantage of their offerings.”

    The helpful staff and interactive gardening and sustainability activities made the experience well worthwhile as a positive practice in the community, he added.

    Personeus also chairs the Water Harvesting Committee, a program under Students for Sustainability. He will be installing the “Water Cow” at Tucson Village Farm on Friday. A 55-gallon drum for harvesting rainfall, the Water Cow has legs, a “tail” that pumps water, and four working udders from which you can easily access water, according to Personeus.

    Since it looks just like a cow, kids love learning about it. The cow is better known as “Oreo,” as it was named by two classes of three-year-olds at the Catalina Methodist Day School where the Water Harvesting Committee first used the Water Cow to educate the public about water harvesting, Personeus said.

    But you don’t have to be a kid or a parent to get involved with the farm. Every Monday, volunteers are invited to help out from 8 a.m. to noon, Sparks said. On “U-Pick” Tuesdays, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., participants are able to pick fresh, organic produce and purchase them. Plus, three paid internships are avaliable to current UA students interested in working at the farm in the summer.

    Tucson Village Farm is about getting everyone in the community involved in healthy, local, sustainable eating practices. So go ahead — dig in.

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