The coronavirus pandemic may have emptied classroom buildings at Cal Poly Pomona, but not the university’s farm, orchards and groves.
The essential work of maintaining the university’s Spadra Farm and on-campus fruit groves continues following safety guidelines.
“The main reason we continue to farm is to keep the Farm Store running and provide food to the public,” Farm Supervisor Chris Van Norden said. “We have stopped non-essential tasks and are mainly focusing on food production.”
Spadra Farm and the fruit tree groves have long served as the outdoor labs for the plant science, agronomy, and crop production classes in the Huntley College of Agriculture, giving students valuable hands-on learning experience.
“If we did not tend to the crops, they would indeed mature beyond use and rot eventually,” Van Norden said. “The fields would become overrun with weeds, and it would be very difficult to regain control in the future without constant attention.”
The farm crew has planted sweet corn, watermelons, tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, and zucchini for the summer.
They are currently harvesting navel oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, carrots, beets, broccoli, spinach, radish, cilantro, swiss chard, asparagus, artichoke, onions, and more to sell in the Farm Store.
The Cal Poly Pomona Farm Store has welcomed the fresh produce to sell to an eager clientele seeking food since the shelter-in-place directive was enacted.
“The community is here shopping every day. Our customers are so happy that we are open,” Farm Store Manager Dawn Taccone said. “We hear many stories all day long about our customers lives. They are so grateful for our produce and essential food items that we stock.”
The Farm Store has begun selling honey produced by the university’s apiary.
Because of COVID-19, farm workers and Farm Store employees are taking extra precautions and following safety protocols.
Farm Store employees are regularly cleaning surfaces and handles and wearing gloves and masks and using hand sanitizer. Sanitizer stations and disposable grocery bags are available for customers. The store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.