When asked to describe some of the sights on Cornell’s campus, views from steep clock-tower steps and even steeper West Campus hills are often the first images that come to mind. Seldom, though, do students mention rows of rainbow-stemmed Swiss chard or brightly colored columns of kale. After my recent trip to the kaleidoscope fields of the student-run Dilmun Hill Farm, “breathtaking campus” came to adopt a humbling new meaning.
What began as a two-acre barnyard has grown into twelve-acres of rolling hills, roofed by beds of organically-grown leafy greens and root vegetables. Since Dilmun Hill opened in 1996, it has provided students with a hands-on approach to education while bridging the ever-expanding gap between individuals and the food that fills their plates. With the goal of instilling both an appreciation for and awareness of the efforts behind the growth of a single vegetable, the Dilmun community offers students the opportunity to experience fresh food outside the realm of grocery aisles and salad bars.
From Outdoor Odyssey orientation camp-outs to their deliveries to student living cooperatives, the student managers of Dilmun Hill stress the immense role that students play in the farm’s success. Whether it’s in the form of volunteering, touring or simply biting into a sun-warmed tomato, students are encouraged to experience Dilmun Hill for themselves.
One way students can get involved is by participating in one of the farm’s work parties, which are held twice a week. Regardless of major or level of experience, students are welcome to venture out to Dilmun Hill to help with tasks such as planting, weeding and harvesting in return for taking home free vegetables at the end of the day. And beyond the promise of free food work partiers “get that great farming cathartic release through hands-on experience with the satisfaction that they have helped to grow quality local produce,” says Dilmun Hill student manager Philip Duvall.
Each Thursday afternoon in the fall, Dilmun Hill sells picked-that-morning produce at the farmer’s market located on the Ag-Quad. Additionally, for students that don’t have time to stroll around the farmer’s market in between classes, the Dilmun Hill managers send out emails listing the farm’s produce at the start of each week, allowing students to place orders for an easy, on-campus pick up.
Whether you’re searching for a new view of Cornell or simply a bundle of local veggies for dinner, Dilmun Hill is well worth the journey across campus.
Dilmun Hill Harvest Salad with Thai Peanut Dressing
For the Salad:
1 bunch of kale, sliced into ribbons
1 bunch of Swiss chard, sliced into ribbons
4 carrots, peeled and shredded
¾ cup cucumbers, sliced thinly
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup raisins
Sesame oil (can be substituted with olive oil)
For the Dressing:
1/4 cup salted peanut butter, creamy or chunky
1 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. honey
Juice of half a lime
Very hot water
Optional: Sriracha or red pepper flakes
Combine the kale and Swiss chard in large serving bowl. Drizzle with the juice of 1 lime, 2 tsp. salt, 1 ½ tsp. oil, and 1 ½ tsp. honey. Massage with hands for about a minute until all ingredients are incorporated and the leaves are slightly softened. Add in the carrots, cucumbers, pumpkin seeds, and raisins.
Prepare the peanut sauce by whisking all the ingredients except the water. Then slowly add in hot water, 1 tbsp. at a time, until the dressing becomes pourable. Taste the dressing and add seasonings to your preference.
Toss the salad with the dressing until it is well coated. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 3 days.