May the Fork be With You

Being a college student brings uncertainty from all angles, but knowing where your next meal comes from can be one of the most daunting. The Field and Fork Food Program at the University of Florida has recognized this and taken a grand initiative to encourage students to fuel their bodies and minds simultaneously. 

Ellie Clayman

By implementing organic practices, Field and Fork has planted an array of up to 10,000 pounds of seasonal crops across an acre of land. Selecting seasonal crops this fall such as arugula, sweet potatoes, basil and even eggplant allows for the freshest and most nutritious crops to be distributed to the Field and Fork pantry located on campus. Squashing the stigma (no pun intended) of food insecurity as a college student has never been so fulfilling. So, why go to Publix for your salads when you can make your own unprocessed, organic, and locally-sourced meal?

Here's how to make your very own Simply Fresh Salad (not the brand, but a salad that’s actually simple and fresh). 


Cowpeas: Originally from Southern Africa, these beans thrive in Florida environments on a large scale. They are related to Black-Eyed peas, giving them a sweet flavor and creamy texture.

Ellie Clayman

Tokyo Bekana: If you love juicy lettuce, Tokyo Bekana is a must. A crispy edge and a buttery interior provide the ultimate flavor explosion.

Garlic Chives: Garlic isn’t the only thing that tastes like garlic. These garlic chives will satisfy are your garlicky dreams, and add an exquisite punch to your savory dishes.

Sweet Potato Leaves: Love fiber? Protein? Vitamin B? Sweet potato leaves have it all. Stir fry these greens and add them to your favorite salad as a crispy topping or leafy mix.

Arugula: Field and Fork prides itself on its arugula, and rightfully so. These greens are juicier than the ones at your grocery store, with a peppery flavor and sweet undertones that might convert you into an arugula lover.

Basil: Grown in neat arrays across the farm, this herb tastes as neat as it looks. Everything is better when it hasn’t been sitting in a produce fridge for 3 days, but it’s best when it comes straight from your school’s organic farm.

Beauty Berries: Although these berries have a mild flavor, they have a wild look. Used traditionally for jams, they serve as a great vinaigrette when blended, but an even better addition to your aesthetic culinary ambitions. 

Thandie Brown


1) Wash all your ingredients. Although Field and Fork washes and sanitizes their produce before distribution, it doesn’t hurt to give your goodies an extra rinse.

2) Place cowpeas in a bowl of water to reintroduce moisture for a juicier interior.

3) Prepare your pesto. Add a leaf of garlic chives, a handful of arugula, about 10 basil leaves and ¼ cup water to a food processor or blender. If you want a creamier consistency, add some ricotta cheese to your mix. Set aside.

4) Remove around 15 Sweet Potato leaves from the stems. Add them to a pan and fry with oil or butter. Cook over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, or until reduced in size. Set aside when done.

5) Assemble your salad. Add Tokyo Bekana to the base of your bowl, followed by Sweet Potato leaves. Add cowpeas, followed by a dollop of your pesto. Garnish with some Beauty Berry druplets (the small circles on the exterior of the berry).

6) Add any seasoning, salt or pepper to your salad.

7) Optional Beauty Berry Dressing: Add 2 full berries, a tablespoon of oil, and a tablespoon of water to a food processor. If you have a lemon handy, a squeeze would be optimal. Once blended, drizzle on your salad for a bright, sour kick. 

Thandie Brown

Getting Involved

If being part of Field and Fork's initiative is of interest, there are various ways to get involved. Volunteer sessions are available on Mondays and Tuesdays from 2-5 PM EST and Wednesdays from 8:30-11:30 AM EST. Internships also provide an interactive experience to explore applied concepts of agriculture. Lastly, classes are available to those interested in merging academic pursuits with hands-on explorations of food systems. 

There are always events occurring at the Field and Fork Farms, so be sure to stay tuned to their Facebook or Instagram where events are always advertised to the Gainesville community. 

Ellie Clayman