MTSU Farmers Market Has Plenty of Veggies

Expect another bumper crop of vegetables at the Friday, July 13, Student Farmers Market at MTSU.

“We should have lots of green beans and lots of tomatoes,” said Dr. Nate Phillips, assistant professor in MTSU’s School of Agribusiness and Agriscience and overseer of the student-run garden at the university farm off Guy James Road in Lascassas

Open to the public, the Student Farmers Market continues Friday at the Horticulture Center on Lightning Way, just off Greenland Drive near the Tennessee Livestock Center. It will be open from noon until 3 p.m.Parking is available in nearby lots. A printable campus map is available at www.mtsu.edu/parking/Map_2011-2012.pdf.

Despite the oppressive heat and severe drought that has plagued Rutherford County for the past month and a faulty irrigation system, Phillips said the Plant and Soil Science Club has enjoyed a fruitful year.

“It has been a great year, actually,” Phillips said by phone while returning from vacation with his family in the Midwest. “We had the earliest sales start (May) ever. We had a good cool-vegetable season. We’re ramping up with the warm-season vegetables.”

 An irrigation system that brings water from the East Fork of the Stones River has been down because of issues with the pump, Phillips said.

“We’ve been moving the hose around three times a day, keeping each section going,” Phillips said. “… We’re almost running irrigation nonstop through the hot weeks. Students have been getting out here on weekends and after hours.”

Phillips said one tap coming out of a well that was dug years ago has been providing water for the vegetables.

The combination of the 100-plus-degree heat for multiple days and lack of rain hurt the lettuce and salad greens, said Phillips, who added that they do not irrigate those crops.

Garlic, which depends on spring rain, did not grow well, Phillips said. Only small cloves grew, he added.

In the past week while Phillips has been away, Austin Lohin of the farm staff told him the garden received about three inches of rain, not including what has fallen July 11-12.

“It’s muddy, too muddy to get into the garden,” Phillips said. “We do use hay mulch to keep water in and minimize evaporation.” He added that they use drip tape as a water-conservation system method of getting water to where the plants need it.

Six regular workers handle garden duties. Phillips said May and June agriculture classes also lend a hand, but there is no class in July. Some class members keep coming.

“Some volunteer to work,” Phillips said. “It’s a sense of ownership for them.”

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