Sunday, September 7, 2014

First Week of Classes

So I've finished up my first week of classes, and while I can't honestly say that I know for certain how busy I'll be this semester, I know that having only three classes instead of two is really nice. While the workload for the classes seems to be rather heavy, having less of them makes things a lot easier. My initial impressions of my classes are generally positive. All of my professors are engaging and seem to genuinely care a lot about the course material and the success of their students which is always a plus.

In our first Plant Production lab we planted A TON of stuff that we'll be growing throughout the course of the semester. The best part is that we get to keep any of the produce we grow over the season. We planted tomatoes (3 varieties), sweet peppers, melons, cucumbers, squash, chard, kale, several varieties of greens (bok choy, etc), and herbs. For flowering plants, we planted cyclamen and poinsettias. All of these are greenhouse grown, so they'll be flowering and fruiting into November and December. There will be many more things that we'll be planting in future labs as well. In the lecture portions we also discussed plant communication and how plants use different signals such as chemicals to signal to other plants, pollinators, and the predators of pests that might be harming them.

World Food Problems is also very interesting. It's a night course so I only have it once a week for 3 hours, so I haven't had enough of the class to really get an impression as to what the course material will really be like. It's co-taught by an Agronomy professor and an Applied Economics professor, which makes it an interesting combination of the two subjects and gives the class material a lot of different perspectives.

Intro to Entrepreneurship seems as if it will be challenging and work-intensive, but not unpleasant. A lot will depend on the group I end up being placed in for our gigantic project that takes up most of the semester. So we'll have to wait and see on that.

I'm still working at the organic farm until the end of the season, so we're pretty much in harvest mode at this point as we attempt to pick everything as fast as it fruits. Pretty hard with the crops like the tomatoes which seem to never ever end. Not a bad problem to have, but it's a lot of tomatoes to deal with. Otherwise, we've been harvesting potatoes, cucumbers (still), strawberries (as they're a day-neutral variety which fruit later), broccoli, and apples. The best part about the strawberry research project taking place at our farm is that there's always an over abundance of strawberries, and I'm constantly going home with free quarts. Free, organic, delicious strawberries? It's the actual best.

One of the strawberry quarts I took home this weekend.

If you want to read up more about my farm, we were featured in the Minneapolis Star Tribune today. A lot of the article is focused on the research we're doing, but also talks a lot about how we provide food to several different places on the University of Minnesota campus. :)

I've also started to see a good amount of food come out of my personal plot at the farm this week as well. I took home cherry tomatoes and basil that I used to make a margherita pizza, which turned out delicious. Otherwise, I did get things into the ground a lot later than I would've liked, so we'll see what more I get besides the tomatoes and possibly some peppers. The weather has been cooling off so there might not be much more time for things to ripen up.