College Farms Revisited: West Coast Region

Now that we’re firmly in September and students are getting into the groove of a new school year, it’s time to revisit our post about college farms and gardens. In the programs listed below, students are actively involved in all aspects of farming from greenhouse management to field planting, and from harvesting to distributing farm-fresh products. College farms provide opportunities for both learning and research and can be a great way to earn credits and internship hours!

This week we’re focusing on college farms along the West Coast. We know that we’ve missed quite a few impressive student farms…so let us know about them in the comments below!

And be sure to visit Rodale Institute’s student farm list to learn about additional farms near you.

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Stanford Community Farm – Stanford University

Stanford, California

The Stanford Community Farm dates back to 1885 when it was the Palo Alto Estate. 
Today the farm is run by a combination of faculty, staff and students. This organic farm keeps farming and agriculture front and center at the university—as exemplified by student farmers and an Earth Systems class taught on the farm. Spread over a one-acre lot, the farm has a fruit orchard and many different student and community plots.

Contact: Graduate, medical and postdoc students contact Jesse Bateman; Undergraduate students contact Patrick Archie.

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Organic Grower’s Club – Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR

The Organic Grower’s Club is a completely student-run, organic farm. The farm began in 2000 by a group of agriculture science students who wanted to add hands-on experiences into the curriculum. The farm spans two acres and now has over 300 students and 400 community members. Farm produce is sold to subsidize operational costs and summer student internships. Volunteer on the farm! Thursday Night Work Parities happen every week 4:30-dark—with free hot supper!

Contact: org_council@lists.oregonstate.edu
 or James Cassidy the Faculty Advisor; and click here to Join the Organic Growers Listserv.

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Organic Farm – Evergreen State College

Olympia, Washington

A five-acre area on the Evergreen campus accommodates a farmhouse, garden, biodiesel facility, compost facility, greenhouse and a 38,000 square foot, certified organic, crop production area. Students at the college enrolled in the Practice of Sustainable Agriculture Program become interns on the farm and grow, harvest and sell their bounty at both a campus farm-stand and through a CSA.

Contact: (360) 867-6160 or email the Farm.

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Agricultural Sustainability Institute – University of California Davis

Davis, California

The Agricultural Sustainability Institute started in 1977 and continues to serve UC Davis students, faculty, school children and community members. The program focuses on sustainable agriculture principles and practices, in-field experiential learning, and inspires students’ initiative, creativity and exploration. The university encourages students to participate on the farm and learn through internships, formal courses and research projects. Year-round crop production takes place on the 4.5-acre farm and produce is available through the university’s dining services and campus coffee houses. Fruit and vegetables are also available at the UC Davis Farmers’ Market and through a CSA. Visit the farm anytime from 8am – 5pm Monday through Friday.

Contact:Mark Van Horn or (530) 752-7645

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UW Farm – University of Washington

Seattle, WA

Several students and faculty members wishing to inform the UW community about the global food system started this urban farm in 2006. The farm serves as a classroom for many different university classes from ecology to anthropology—and the farm also hosts a quarterly sustainable farm internship. The farm is a registered student organization with over 600 members. Learn more about farm events by joining the listserve; and click here to learn how to volunteer and get involved.

 

Organic Farmers: Be heard through the Organic Seed Survey

It’s the peak of the growing season, with farmers out on their land plucking off tomatoes and digging up carrots. But come winter, these farmers will be tucked away in their offices planning next year’s crop. Will they use organic seeds? How will they source them?

Since 2008 the top eight global seed firms have gobbled up 70-plus smaller seed companies. Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta control over half of the market—a sharp increase from the mid 1990’s when the top three seed corporations controlled 22 percent of the industry.[1] (Check out this excellent infographic for more). That consolidation over seeds – the genetic source of all the food we eat – has had dramatic impact on family farmers, and organic farmers in particular.

The Organic Seed Alliance’s national seed survey aims to understand the impact of those most affected by this consolidation: organic farmers. Every five years, OSA’s survey results highlight the needs of organic farmers and the availability of organic seeds and seed quality to inform future policy and research. The findings are published in their State of Organic Seed report.  View the 2011 report here.

OSA’s last survey gathered responses from 1,027 organic farmers in 45 states and demonstrated a lack of availability and quantity of organic seeds. Nearly 80% of respondents said they were having some degree of difficulty sourcing organic seeds. Contributing factors included: concentration in the seed industry, cutbacks in plant breeding programs, and disagreement and confusion over how to implement the National Organic Program. Concentration in the industry is particularly problematic for organic farmers, as it leads to a dearth of organic seeds and varieties.

OSA’s national seed survey is vital in determining the barriers and the opportunities in the organic seed industry and in discovering how farmers are using, or not using, organic seeds.

If you are a certified organic crop producer, please consider taking this confidential survey.

The deadline for responding is October 3, 2014. Access the survey here.

Sources:

1. Wendy, Banks (2013). “Biotech Infographic Shows Global Consolidation Of Seed Industry.” The Sleuth Journal. October 15, 2013. Available:http://www.thesleuthjournal.com/biotech-infographic-shows-global-consolidation-seed-industry/