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The Utah State University Student Organic Farm

Background
In the spring of 2008 Dr. Jennifer Reeve, Dr. Dan Drost, and over thirty USU graduate and undergraduate students broke ground on the USU Student Organic Farm. The farm, which was the brainchild of Dr. Drost, provides a “hands-on” student laboratory for teaching students about best practices in organic farming and gardening. Students volunteer their time to plant, weed, harvest, and market vegetables and fruit. Although Dr. Reeve and Dr. Drost provide guidance, the farm is run by the student volunteers. The farm provides an opportunity for students to acquire the many skills critical to creating a successful market or backyard garden. The farm’s produce is sold on campus every week and also at the Dale and Adele Young teaching greenhouse. Proceeds go to support the student farm in terms of operating expenses, equipment purchases and modest student stipends.

Successes
Since the summer of 2009 the student farm has successfully run a fifty member Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Members of the community pay in advance to receive weekly shares of produce throughout the growing season. This allowes us to employ six students as farm managers over the course of the season. These students oversee the day to day running of the farm and co-ordinate volunteer activities. We are always looking for dedicated students interested in becoming farm mangers. These students are picked from our most committed volunteers.

Vision
We ultimately envision creating a cross-disciplinary curriculum that will link the practical experience of growing and harvesting food with food preparation, nutrition and health as well as creating a practical training in gardening for future agricultural educators. Towards this end we are discussing plans with faculty from the department of Nutrition and Food Science and the department of Agricultural Science, Technology, and Education to link some of their classes with the student farm, create small, demonstration gardens on campus, develop student-led workshops for schools and the community, and stimulate student interest in growing and consuming fresh fruit and vegetables.

Current Class Offerings
PSC 2800 Fundamentals of Organic Farming (3 credits) spring semester PSC 4900 Organic Farm Practicum (1 credit) spring, summer and fall semesters. This course can be taken continuously as many times as a student wishes.



Looking east at the farm in October 2008.