It’s been a while since we’ve looked into the new events and happenings at the big demonstration Farm at Ruppin and it is continuing to grow and develop under the caring guidance of both Shoval the agronomist and Paul Odonyo who has been caring for the demonstration farm diligently for the past year.
For those of you following us on facebook you may have noticed beautiful pictures of vegetables that are being picked at the demonstration farm, so here’s the story behind the picking.
The demonstration farm has planting, growing and picking cycles just as any farm. The fruits and vegetables planted are chosen with great care by Agrostudies’ agronomists Elad and Shoval. Every line of vegetables planted is done as part of a demonstration to the students so they have the chance to really learn something new each time. The plants are chosen by their relevancy to the students. It is either a crop that is important in their home country, it utilizes unique technologies that need to be taught or they choose examples of new types of crops the students may not be familiar with. Colorabi is a good example of this type of crop. The students are usually unfamiliar with this funny vegetable and enjoy learning about it. This process takes longer than it would in a regular farm because of these reasons. The farm includes grafted seedlings, covered plants, seed spacing and fertilization and each activity is an educational opportunity.
Once the planting is over the growing period begins. The demonstration farm really is there for the students benefit. They come and take care of the plants during their school breaks or after the classes have ended. This is their independent choice, they are not required to do so by any course, but the farm is there to help them gain experience and learn as much as they can.
When it’s time for harvesting this is also done exclusively by the students. They come when they like and pick the vegetables they want to take home. They do this independently, under the guidance of Paul Odonyo. A couple of weeks ago the lettuce, kohlrabi, chard, beets and cabbage were ready for harvest and the students came and picked them with great enthusiasm, as can be seen in the pictures. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants will soon be ready for picking and around April the demonstration farm will begin planting its summer crops.
“What happens if the students don’t come and pick the vegetables, who takes care of it then?”, I ask. Shoval laughs at the question. “We never have too much, there’s always someone who wants to take the vegetables home. Sometimes” he admits “the office here enjoys some of the crop. But it is first and foremost for the students”.