MKG Squash in UVA Dining Halls!

This is an exciting week for Morven Kitchen Garden.  On Tuesday, November 14 through Thursday, November 16, UVA Dining Halls will be featuring butternut squash grown at MKG in evening meals!

The butternut squash journey from seed to dining plate, began on June 1st.  Volunteers from UVA Facilities Management helped the MKG interns to prepare beds for planting – adding  compost to the beds and connecting the lines for drip irrigation.  On June 2 summer interns seeded ten beds of squash.

Summer squash tasks included irrigation, multiple weedings, and pest control.  Another group of Facilities Management volunteers joined us in July to mulch the beds with hay.

The plants grew well and thrived throughout the summer.  On October 12, twelve student volunteers harvested over 900lb of butternut squash from the 10 beds of squash.  The also sorted the squash into 3 categories:  best, short term storage, and eat soon.  Everyone left with squash to cook and enjoy.

The planting of seeds started in early June, but the partnership between UVA Dining and MKG started in 2016. Both groups were interested in having local, student grown vegetables eaten in the dining  halls.  A key step to make this goal happen was for the garden to get GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) Certified.   UVA Dining requires GAP Certification for produce they purchase.  The USDA defines GAP as “a voluntary audit that verifies that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored as safely as possible to minimize risks of food safety hazards.”

In 2016, MKG students and Emily Salle, the former garden manager, began exploring and researching GAP and laying the groundwork for getting certified.  Part of their efforts included obtaining a G.I.F.T. grant to create a produce wash area and picnic tables for the designated eating area at the garden. 

In 2017, we dove into the GAP paperwork – including creating our food safety manual, getting our water tested, outlining procedures for how produce is harvested and handled,  and developing guidelines and training for garden volunteers.  In early October, the auditor visited MKG and reviewed our paperwork, policies, and fields and the garden received GAP certification.  Hurrah! Now that the garden is GAP certified, we look forward to selling more produce to UVA Dining in the future.

Many hands were involved in planning and tending the butternut squash this year.  We are excited that it will be featured at UVA Dining this week and to taste the yummy dishes the chefs will prepare.

Stop by the following dining halls for dinner this week to try some student grown squash:

Tuesday, November 14th   Runk

Wednesday, November 15th  Fresh Food Company

Thursday, November 16th   O Hill

Happy eating!  Steph Meyers, MKG Farm Manager


“Falling” into October!

It’s been another busy week on the farm! Our students have come back from their fall break, refreshed and ready to get back to the farm.

On Wednesday we harvested beans and tomatoes, and we’ll begin to harvest sweet potatoes this upcoming Saturday!

Here is a photo of one of our volunteers harvesting swiss chard for the CSA:

We also have begun to harvest our pumpkins, in time for Halloween.

And at one of our meetings, students planted pea shoots, which have already begun to sprout.

See you soon at the farm!


Farmers Market, the CSA, and more!

The past week has been a busy one on the farm! Last week we started off by harvesting veggies for a pop-up farmers market at UVA. At the farmers market, we sold salads made from MKG lettuce, tomatoes and nasturtiums (spicy, edible flowers).

On Thursday, we picked over 22 lbs of green beans for the first harvest, and on Friday we packed up everything for the CSA delivery.

On Saturday, APO, a service fraternity at UVA, sent out 10 volunteers to help us clean and sanitize harvest containers, harvest green beans and tomatoes, weed carrots, and help us build shelves in our tool shed.

See you soon at the farm!


Gazpacho in the Garden and first week of Fall CSA

We kicked off the fall semester with our annual event, Gazpacho in the Garden on August 25th.  Just shy of 200 people attended and enjoyed a fun evening.  There was great local food, garden tours, live music, and raffle prizes!

The day before, two crews of students made Gazpacho, a cold tomato and cucumber soup, for Friday’s meal.   Many local businesses donated food and drinks to provide a wonderful buffet dinner.  Local band Sorority Boy shared good music and we could not have asked for better weather.  Thanks to everyone who attended or volunteered!


Today, the fall CSA season began!  We are excited to be distributing our produce on campus this semester, in front of O Hill Dining Hall.  In addition to serving as a CSA share pickup spot, the MKG table offered tomato tastings to students and information about the garden.  Stop by  on Friday afternoons from noon to 2pm to say hi and to try a sample of produce your fellow students are growing.

Happy eating, Steph Meyers, MKG farm manager


Week 10 Summer CSA

On Friday, we harvested the final share of the summer CSA.  It was also the last day of the MKG summer internship program.

This week’s share was a food lover’s extravaganza – filled with eleven different vegetables!  From eggplants and chard, to onions and potatoes, there was something to excite everyone’s taste buds.


Over the course of 12 weeks you see lots of change and growth in the garden.  In one of the early week’s of the CSA, the interns seeded ten beds of butternut squash.  In the pictures below you can see what it looked like on the day of planting (left side) and what that field looks like now (right side).  Later in September, we will begin harvesting the butternut squash.  Some will go to the fall CSA, but most of the squash is destined for UVA Dining where they will be used in student meals.  Very exciting!


It has been a good summer season!  I have enjoyed working these past 12 weeks with Gabi, Holly, and Mikaela.  They have shared lots of enthusiasm, good insights, and thoughtful questions, as they tended the garden and harvested produce for the CSA and for wholesale customers.  A big thanks to the interns for all their dedication to the garden and their hard work this season.


With every ending comes a new beginning.  As we say goodbye to summer and the interns, we look forward to the start of school and more students helping in the garden.  The fall CSA will start Friday, September 8th.  We hope you will consider joining us.

Steph Meyers, MKG Farm Manager

Summer CSA Week 9

This week was exciting and challenging for the interns, as it was the first full week without our fearless leader and farm manager, Steph, who took a (much deserved) vacation with her family!

We tackled a lot of chores in preparation for fall this week: planting fall crops, clearing out old beds, and cleaning up those that will carry through from summer to autumn. Check out some of the highlights below:


The zinnia beds feel a lot fresher now that they’ve gotten a decent weeding. Even the pollinators are happy!

The end of last week and the beginning of this week focused on getting new plants in the ground for our upcoming Fall CSA (starting the first week of September — be on the look out for updates on when sign-ups start!). Germinating now are new successions of green beans and lettuce mixes. Kale, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage (aka the fall brassicas) are also doing their best under row cover, getting big and tasty for Fall CSA members!


Shade cloth (shown in black) and row cover (white) help keep sun and bugs off of baby plants!


Take a peek under the row cover to find…


Baby beans!! Soon these sprigs of leaves will be thick with green beans.


Despite the weeding done in these beds of sweet potatoes, the vines still dominate the rows!


Herbs (bed A14) and Nasturtiums (∆) got a good weeding. Just in time for the Nasturtiums to bloom! (Peep the golden and orange flowers on the plant in the front)

On Thursday, we had volunteers come from UVA’s Facilities Management, and they helped us tackle some bigger (taller?) tasks!


Cherry tomatoes getting trellised (again!); they now reach the ceiling of the hoop house!


All Trellised Up

They also helped us in our never-ending battles of weeding and harvesting cherry tomatoes!


Cleanin’ up the chard

We really appreciate all of our volunteers who come to help us out (especially during some really hot days during the summer!). We couldn’t do it all without your help!


Our tireless FM friends (plus our tireless interns, Mikaela and Gabi)

The week ended with this beautiful harvest, going out to our members as week 9 of our summer CSA! Check out that spread (featuring red potatoes and those lovely zinnias!)IMG_7949.JPG

It’s a little bittersweet to see the summer coming to a close. This past Friday marked Gabi’s last day with us as a summer intern, and we have just one more Friday harvest and distribution before the end of the summer CSA.

But never fear! Fall (and classes) are just around the corner, and a whole new ~crop~ of student volunteers will be joining us to start the new round of growing!


Holly, MKG Summer Intern

Tomatoes Everywhere

Hello! This is a post about tomatoes and what to do with them.

  1. Eat them! They make a great snack (just make sure to wash them before popping them in your mouth)
  2. Bruschetta (The Garlic Diaries, Bruschetta tips)
  3. Tomato sauce (NYT Cooking,  Serious Eats, Brooklyn Farm Girl)
  4. Gazpacho (NYT Cooking, The Chef Dan)
  5. Curry (The Full Helping, Epicurious)
  6. Summer salad (Delish)
  7. Quiche or frittata
  8. In an omelette
  9. Bloody Mary (you can use the juice that results from removing the seeds in some of the other recipes!)
  10. Your own V8 (Farmgirl Fare)

Week 8 CSA

Given how quickly everything changes in the garden, every week feels eventful but this week in particular saw some big changes at MKG!  Last week we pulled out a lot of our dying beds and this week we tilled up the soil, added compost, and planted new beds of kale, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, and lettuce for the fall!

Soon Plot A will be green and full of growing things once more! This coming week we’ll work on putting in broccoli, more kale, sunflowers, and buckwheat in Plot B. Some more basil might also be in order because our beautiful bed was struck down by basil blight, brought on by the high levels of heat and humidity recently.

Fortunately, the tomatoes in the hoophouse seem completely unaffected and are chugging along. They’re doing so well, in fact, that we picked over 200 pint boxes of cherry tomatoes this week!! The tomato plants have grown so high that some of them touch the top of the hoophouse, while others have drooped into the aisle between the beds. We’re going to see if we can restore some order to our tomato jungle this week!

In other garden news, the zinnias have started blooming and it seems that almost every morning I find a butterfly or two perched on the flowers.

We also found the first few itty bitty pumpkins this week. It’s crazy to think that these tiny green balls barely bigger than a grape will grow into shapely orange pumpkins come October.

Enthusiastically yours,

Mikaela Ruiz-Ramon, MKG Intern

Summer CSA Week 7!

We can’t believe there are only 3 weeks left of the summer CSA! It has been amazing getting to watch things grow over the past weeks from seed into a full acre of food. The Kitchen Garden has a special place in my heart…and all of my aching muscles! But the hard work has definitely paid off (the view helps too).

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This past week we harvested loads more cherry tomatoes! The hoop house is becoming more of a forest than a house. We have been lucky enough to not only give our CSA members lots of cherry tomatoes but we have also sold them to Salt, The Boars Head and Integral Yoga. It’s really exciting to be part of a whole network of food systems in Charlottesville.

If you are looking for a quick and easy recipe to use up those cherry tomatoes check out this yummy pasta dish.


Cherry tomatoes galore! Peep the garlic drying in the background 🙂

Some things are coming to an end in the garden; this week we mowed down the salad greens, pulled out the rest of the onions and the last of the Napa cabbage. But, by the end of next week we hope to have plenty of peppers and eggplants! If you’re looking for a way to use your Napa cabbage and radishes from this weeks share try this kimchi recipe.

We hope some of you can make it to our volunteer workday this Sunday from 9am-noon!

All for now,

Gabi Freckmann, MKG Summer Intern


Week 6 CSA

Welcome back! We’ve made it over the halfway point for the CSA and we’re starting to see the bounty of summer in full! Check out the beautiful produce featured in this week’s share!


Beautiful colors this week from the beets, cherry tomatoes, and return of rainbow chard!

The cherry tomatoes in our hoop house have been loving the heat, and we’ve now collected nearly four dozen pints of cherry tomatoes in a single week! That’s a whole lot of tomatoes, and we’re just getting started!


Harvesting in a hoop house full of basil, tomatoes and peppers isn’t so bad… it smells like pizza! 🙂


Halfway through the tomato harvest for the day!

This week also marked the first harvest of beets (a personal favorite of mine)! Not only did we have a healthy-sized crop in the field, but a single beet volunteered to grow in the hoop house… and boy, did it grow.


Great in salads, as chips, dipped in hummus, made INTO hummus, and even as a natural dye!


You can’t BEET veggies that decide to grow on their own! 


Fun fact: Beets and Swiss Chard are in the same botanical group, along with other colorful friends including Amaranth, Spinach, and even Quinoa!

In other news this week, the collaborative quarter-acre shared by UVA’s Environmental Sciences Department, UVA Dining and MKG (more commonly referred to as Plot C), has been mulched and weeded thanks to the help of many volunteers, just in time for the opening of the first butternut squash blossoms! These plants have really taken to the soil, bio-char or not, and the bees are busy getting to pollinating the plants!



Many thanks to our ever-helpful volunteer, Natalie!



The tiny, oblong shape at the base of the flower will soon become a full-sized butternut squash!

The butternut squash will be ready for harvest likely at the beginning of September, right in time for our Fall CSA! If nothing says “autumn” to you quite like a warm cup of butternut squash soup or a roasted squash for Thanksgiving, consider signing up for the MKG Fall CSA (you won’t be disappointed!)

Speaking of fall plans, this week, we started planning our crops to be ready for fall, and will be planting next week!


So much potential…!

Looking forward to even more veggies soon as slicing tomatoes, bell peppers, and eggplants ripen up!

As always, keep it ~fresh~

Holly Brooks, MKG Summer Intern