Passion for the Harvest: F.A.R.M. Club at Miami University

Food Accessibility and Resilience at Miami—known by its members as F.A.R.M. Club—is a group of close-knit peers, united with a common goal in mind: to change the way Miami, and our world, relates to food.

The group kicked off alongside the Institute for Food last year as a coalition of students who cared deeply about the Institute and its mission. Advised by Peggy Shaffer, the Institute for Food’s co-director, F.A.R.M. Club quickly involved itself in the Institute community. Now, the Club’s members volunteer regularly on the Miami University Farm, assist with many of the Institute’s initiatives, and spend time together socially. “I cannot wait to see what it becomes,” says Carder Gilbert. “Everyone working hard for the same reasons, getting outside, and enjoying life through food.”

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Carder, a senior from Oakwood, Ohio, pairs her participation in F.A.R.M. Club with her internship on Miami University Farm. An American Studies major, Carder is using her internship on the farm to design her own thematic sequence. “It has really taken me down a cool path with my academic studies,” she says. Carder spends her Wednesdays and Fridays among rows of greens and mounds of soft soil: assisting with harvests, lending a hand at farming tasks, and connecting with the other volunteers. “My favorite thing is the community of people,” she says.

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Tara Verghis, a junior Biology student, got involved with F.A.R.M. Club this semester. She found out about the club through a publicity event. “Last year, I saw the president and another member of the group at Western Dining,” she laughs. “They were wearing costumes. I think one was a pea pod and the other was a carrot.”

“I’ve always wanted to help out on an organic farm. I thought, that would be a fun thing to do.” Her environmental science co-major has sparked her interest in marine and forest conservation. While agriculture isn’t one of her chief focuses in class, she thoroughly enjoys the opportunity for hands-on experience. “I’ve always loved this kind of stuff.”

Tara speaks passionately about the food industry. “There’s a lot of waste involved; a lot of chemicals.” The chance to have a hand in creating a more sustainable food culture is, to Tara, encouraging. And because she lives near Moon Co-op, a local grocery store that sells produce grown on the Miami University Farm, she often sees the product of her and her peers’ volunteer work.

Tara shares Carder’s enthusiasm about the students involved in the club. “This group of people is awesome … they’re really open minded and super caring. I love hanging out with them.”

This October, the F.A.R.M. Club convened at a double-celebration: for Halloween, of course, which was just around the corner, and for the farm’s recent harvests. The Halloween Harvest Festival was held at Western Lodge and featured a potluck meal, costume contest, jam session, and an impromptu AcroYoga demonstration. “We tried to keep everything as environmentally friendly as possible, so a lot of people brought washable items for the dinner,” says Tara. She spoke especially enthusiastically of the costume contest. Again, the members dressed as fruits and vegetables– an action that is becoming a signature farm club theme. “We had a carrot, an artichoke, broccoli, and Mr. Potato Head, to name a few.”

For the members of F.A.R.M. Club, sustainability and agriculture is not only a passion or an area of study. It’s a way of life; an activity. For some, it’s a chance to put hands to dirt at the Miami University Farm. For most, it’s a way to connect and engage, creating meaningful relationships around a cause that matters: food.

Interested in getting involved with Food Accessibility and Resilience at Miami? Contact the president, Amy Harmon, at harmona4@miamioh.edu.