KU Student Farm: Growing Sustainability

A Student Farm at KU: Beginnings
February 14, 2011, 4:58 pm
Filed under: Beginnings of the farm

Greenhouse work Spring 2010

The first ramblings of a KU Student Farm were hatched back in the fall of 2009 after a road trip through the northwest. I was  inspired by the beautiful campus of Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. The Evergreen Organic Farm was on a five-acre plot and included community gardens, a biodiesel facility, compost facility, workroom, tool shed, several greenhouses, and the 38,000-square-foot Organic Farm area. Student farm interns work on the farm through the Practice of Sustainable Agriculture Program.  The produce is sold at an on-campus farm stand, directly on the farm, and through a Community Supported Agriculture Program, while the surplus is donated to the local food bank. I was impressed to say the least.

After getting back from the trip, I started to discuss various ideas such as the possibilities for a Student Farm or a KU Orchard with Kelly Kindscher of the Kansas Biological Survey, who I’d been working with on other environmental projects. The following semester, Kelly chose to include the Student Farm idea as one of the potential research projects for the Environmental Studies Capstone course he was teaching at KU. I became part of a small group of students who then created a small research project based on the idea, and several of us began taking the first steps to turn the project into a reality. Ben Alexander, Danielle Golon and I were leading up the efforts to make it happen outside of the classroom. We were able to cover a lot of the initial groundwork and began having meetings with students on campus with some great feedback.

Jason Hering, student coordinator

Toward the end of the semester, we began talking to KU students Kim Scherman, Nolan Kappelman and Greg Beverlin, all leaders in the KU student group Environs, about getting involved and becoming new student coordinators. This was perfect timing, as I was leaving for India for the summer, Danielle was graduating, and Ben was graduating, getting married and moving to KC. Kim, Nolan and Greg and a group of volunteers began gardening and learning on-site throughout the summer and the fall 2010 semester. Once I got back to the states, we all started working together again as the University of Kansas Student Farm coordinators, and I’ve been loving it ever since.

-Jason Hering