SRU’s Macoskey Center serves up fresh produce


Students selling organic produce

Sept. 12, 2018

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Once a student arrives at Slippery Rock University, mom and dad's home-cooked meals are quickly traded in for meal swipes, a bounty of flex and, for those unskilled in the culinary arts, a cupboard full of ramen back at the dorm.

Between a schedule loaded with classes, part-time jobs and a variety of extracurricular activities, shopping for fresh produce doesn't always make the grade on a college student's "to do" list. Enter the University's Robert A. Macoskey Center

The Macoskey Center Farm Stand, launched Sept. 6, offers fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers, herbs and eggs for sale directly to SRU students. The stand is open noon to 2 p.m. every Thursday, weather permitting, through Oct. 18 in the Quad near the Slippery Rock Student Government Association Pavillion. Also available for purchase are natural bath and body products made by SRU student volunteers and Macoskey Center workers.

"It's our way of making sure the campus has access to fresh, local, healthy, organically grown food," said Rebecca Thomas, professor of parks, conservation and recreational therapy and co-director of programming at the Macoskey Center.

Week One's offerings included:
• Lettuce
• Microgreens
• Yellow squash
• Zucchini
• Eggplant
• Onions
• Potatoes
• Apples
• Cucumbers
• Purslane
• Cherry tomatoes
• Green beans
• Sweet peppers
• Hot peppers (Pepperoncini)
• Banana peppers
• Kale
• Fennel
• Nasturtiums
• Pac Choi
• Grape tomatoes
• Carrots

And while bringing the farm to SRU's fleet of students is a worthy endeavor in and of itself, the farm stand isn't the only thing keeping the Center staff busy this semester.

With the help of Thomas; Shawn Davis, assistant professor of parks, conservation and recreational therapy and co-coordinator of educational programming at the Center; and park and resource management graduate assistants Jacob Smith from Pittsburgh and Sami Laurence from Grove City, the Center will be offering a bevy of activities.

In conjunction with SRU's Women's Center, a film series, titled "Lunch, Love, Community" will be launched Sept. 24 in the Smith Student Center Theater. The series will focus on the school lunch system in the U.S. and how local food systems can help improve those programs.

The Macoskey Center and the Old Stone House will partner on "Growing with the Grain" featuring baker Laurie Sands. The event, with a date to be announced, will show attendees how to make and bake their own breads. Sands will fire hers in the Old Stone House's outdoor, wood-fired oven.

In collaboration with the SRU's Department of Gender Studies, the Frederick Douglass Institute and the Department of Parks, Conservation and Recreational Therapy, the Center will host Karen Washington at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 2 in the SSC Theater. Washington is a community activist, farmer and co-owner of Rise and Root Farm in New York City.

She was named one of the "Top 100 Most Influential African-Americans in the U.S." by Ebony in 2012. Washington's presentation will focus on how to bring food justice and food sovereignty into your work; how to provide culturally appropriate access to fresh, healthy local foods; and the implications of those ideas for western Pennsylvania.

The Macoskey Center, which has been the University's home to hands-on, applied sustainability education and research since 1990, promotes sustainability at SRU and in the local community.

Located on 83 acres, the Center enacts its mission in three ways:
• Education about sustainability through events, workshops and programs.
• Physical demonstration of sustainable technologies and systems.
• Supporting sustainability-focused academic initiatives and research.

"Sustainability is something that should cut across all disciplines, it's something we're going to need as a healthy society, it's something that people will need to practice in the future, so we strongly believe that having a demonstration site such as the Macoskey Center that students will come and see some piece of that puzzle, they might be able to bring back a piece and incorporate that into their own lives to start becoming more sustainable as a person," said Davis.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lesa Bressanelli | 724.738.2091 |