This project seeks to strengthen student understanding of the farm-to-fork food system. This project's main goal is to upkeep, collection, and summarization data from the Woody Perennial Polyculture (WPP). The WPP was a student-initiated effort that was established on the Student Sustainable Farm in 2012 with support from the SSC and other campus entities. By completing this analysis, WPP will expand its educational outreach, increase student engagement, and better connect with campus Dining Services. This funding provides student and staff time so that WPP can expand its efforts after a detailed analysis.
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Projects Updates for Woody Perennial Polyculture (WPP) Research Site
- Associated Project(s):Attached Files:
New Update from the Woody Perennial Polyculture Research Site!
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A Woody Perennial Polyculture (WPP) is an assemblage of plant species that aims to mimic the structure and function of natural ecosystems to sustainably produce an agricultural yield while simultaneously restoring ecosystem services. Rather than perpetuating the separation of nature and humans, this system attempts to break down the dichotomy between ecological restoration and agriculture.
Jun 29, 2014 04:56 pm
This past week, the WPP Research Site had its first harvest of the year! As always, the red currants on the site started fruiting early and were the first to ripen up. All of the red currant plants on the site are a single uniform variety, leading to an amazingly synchronous ripening and the opportunity for us to harvest all the berries in just one morning with the help of our new student harvest crew. Despite the harvesting crew’s limited experience, the harvest went off without a hitch, resulting in about 200 pounds of red currants off of the diverse 2 acres in only the project’s third year!
Most of the currants will be juiced and turned into a variety value added products. These products range from sorbet and gelato to wine and jam. All products are intended to help determine what new ways currants can be used in the Midwest.
The raspberries and the black currants are racing to see which fruit ripens next. The black currants only fruit once per year, while the multiple raspberries will be harvested several times throughout the growing season. Along with the summer- and fall- bearing varieties, the site also has ever bearing raspberries that will continue to fruit all year.
The long-term research initiated here will study the agricultural and ecological characteristics of a WPP system in relation to the conventional corn-soybean rotation (CSR). Read more about how we're addressing this great need on our Research page.
How do you want to get engaged?
Visit? Read a related book? Volunteer? Start or convert your own farm? Donate?
Visit our Engagement page to learn more about all of these things!
- Associated Project(s):
Fresh Press, in collaboration with the Sustainable Student Farm (SSF) and the Woody Perennial Polyculture (WPP) site, are aiming to grow student opportunities through individual and collaborative research and public engagement efforts. The money requested in the Farm and Fiber grant will contribute to the acquisition of walk-in coolers, perennial crops, bee hives/equipment, additional paper dry box, a bailer/hay rake, and a bale shredder blower. This equipment will benefit each project at the SSF by increasing farm production and allowing for increased agricultural fiber yield, leading to a growth in paper production. This increased capacity will triple production capacity and allow greater opportunity for university paper commissions and student workshops in Fresh Press facilities at South Studios.
- Associated Project(s):Attached Files:
Our spring field day that took place at the end of May was a huge success! Many great collaborations have already evolved out of the conversations that took place among the many visitors that came out.
Check out the video below that summarizes the field day, participants, and the general outreach focus of the WPP Research Site. You can also view our Media page for photos from the field day as well as our other recent activities.
If you missed the spring field day, please join us for one of our summer field days on Friday August 23rd or Saturday August 24th!
CAN'T SEE THE VIDEO? CLICK HERE TO VIEW IT.
The first flush of both red currants and raspberries ripened up this past week, and we were able to harvest our first calories from the WPP Research Site. Once yield and nutrition data are collected, all crops from the site, including the berries harvested this spring, are sold to University Dining Services for use in both catered campus events as well as the student dining halls. When sufficient quantitates are available, WPP crops will also be sold at the Sustainable Student Farm market stand on the quad side of the Illini Union (Thursdays, 11am-5pm).
There are still plenty more raspberries to come this summer, as well as a solid crop of black currants and grapes!