As the days get colder, Ava Padilla is tucking her farm in for the winter. Padilla is one of two farm directors at F.H. King, a student-run organization that focuses on providing an experimental space for students to engage with sustainable agriculture and reconnect with foodways.
Padilla, who has been gardening for almost 10 years, joined F.H. King’s Board of Directors her junior year after seeing a position listing. She loves engaging with nature in the farm out at Eagle Heights — “I love knowing the plants as friends,” Padilla said. “I love seeing people connect … sometimes this is someone’s first time seeing a tomato!”
Padilla emphasized that the org is open to all experience levels and interests. “You can absolutely come in knowing nothing … ultimately, my job means being able to share what I know, and learn.”
So come on out, even if you’ve never grown a plant before, or if you aren’t a biology or botany major. All you need is an interest and a desire to learn. “Please come! I want to hear what you have to say! Ask all the stupid questions,” Padilla said. “They’re good questions!”
On campus, F.H. King is best known for their Harvest Handouts. “Once a week, usually on Sundays, we transport all the produce we’ve grown and give it out for free,” Padilla said. The org, which is funded by segregated fees, distributes about 300 pounds of produce weekly during peak season.
F.H. King provides a number of services besides free food. Members can attend a variety of guest lectures and educational events that explore various topics within sustainability. Recently, the org hosted a workshop on natural dyes, a pickling workshop and composting workshops. Students interested in organic agriculture can also work with F.H. King for internship credits.
The growing season may be winding down, but there’s still plenty of ways to get involved with F.H. King. The org is run by a non-hierarchical board of directors, but you don’t have to be on the board to get involved. New members can come to volunteer workdays, typically held on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. F.H. King is also hosting a Chopped event on Friday, Oct. 8, in which students will compete to create a dish with F.H. King’s produce. There will also be a Harvest Festival at the farm in Eagle Heights on Oct. 15.
Students interested in joining F.H. King can be as involved as they want — there are no fees or minimum amount of hours required for any member not on the board of directors. However, those interested in getting involved with leadership in the org should keep their eyes peeled for any board positions opening up — these are paid positions that have set responsibilities.
Padilla emphasized that the farm is a safe space for all who wish to be involved, including Queer or BIPOC people who may not fit the stereotype of an American farmer. “There’s a change in the makeup of American farmers going on,” Padilla said. “We want to support these people, and build a community.” F.H. King also frequently collaborates with organizations like Wunk Sheek, and recognizes that their farm is on unceded Ho-Chunk territory.
If you’re interested in joining F.H. King, check them out on Instagram @fhkingfarm for links to their upcoming events and most recent newsletters. Get out to the farm!