KU Student Farm: Growing Sustainability

What is the KU Student Farm?
June 2, 2010, 5:45 pm
Filed under: What is the KU Student Farm?

The KU Student Farm is newly tilled plot of land just north of Lawrence where students can grow their own food. It’s next to the Lawrence Municipal Airport and Prairie Moon Waldorf School, on the grounds of the KU Native Medicinal Plant Research Garden, headed by Kelly Kindscher and Kirsten Bosnak. And it’s available to students now! (See my contact information at the end of this post to set up your garden.)

The garden is a project of the Native Medicinal Plant Research Program, which is based at KU’s Department of Medicinal Chemistry and the Kansas Biological Survey. The plants grown in the garden are native to the Great Plains. These plants and others are being studied for their natural medicinal compounds, which could be used in natural remedies, health-care, food and cosmetic products, pharmaceuticals and veterinary products. Find more on the program’s website: www.nativeplants.ku.edu.

photo by Wally Emerson

Kelly Kindscher is the faculty advisor for the Student Farm. I have only worked with Kelly for a little while, but it is already clear how much of a force he is here in Lawrence and how much he is supported by the community. He was recently on the discussion panel at the showing of the movie “Dirt!” at Liberty Hall. Kelly is one of those few people who truly lead by example, and I look forward to working with him more this summer! To read more about Kelly visit http://www.kbs.ku.edu/people/staff_www/kindscher/facweb_kindscher.htm.

Photo by Kim Scherman

Kirsten Bosnak is the manager of the medicinal research garden and the staff liaison for the Student Farm. She majored in English and journalism (just like me!) and began her love of gardening when her mom gave her her first packet of nasturtium seeds when she was four. I interviewed Kelly and Kirsten and a few other people interested in the Student Farm, and I don’t want to give all of Kirsten’s story away … yet. Kirsten is such a sweet person who I can connect with. I am not an environmental studies major, but knowing that Kirsten is able to actively participate in environmental issues and comes from an English/journalism background is very inspirational for me. Kirsten designed the KU Native Medicinal Plant Research Program’s website too. Check it out!

photo by Kim Scherman

Greg Beverlin is the other coordinator for the Student Farm with me. Greg was a local food coordinator for Environs last semester, and next semester he will be the vice president! Greg works with Kelly as a student employee at the Kansas Biological Survey and has spent a lot of time working on the Native Medicinal Plant Research Program, with data, greenhouse work and at the garden. Greg helped put on the showing of Food Inc. last fall, and he has been working with KU Dining Services to bring more local food to campus. I can’t wait to see how much he accomplishes next year as VP! (Random side note: I just recently found out that Greg’s family produces THE SAUCE — barbeque sauce — found in the supermarket!)

I am so excited that we have a plot of land that’s close enough to KU to be accessible, yet far enough away to be an escape from all the homework and stress of college. We are still figuring out the specifics of how it will operate, but, so far, the idea is this: Each KU student will contract for a small section of our plot of land. There, they can plant whatever they want for themselves or friends.

Jennifer Kongs, another member of the Student Farm who works with Bob Lominska (founder of Hoyland Farm and part owner of Central Soyfoods) said, “What better way to be a student and be poor and not have to go to McDonald’s!” The goal is to get students interested in growing their own food and learning about the importance of sustainability in our world. Most students do not have the space to grow their own garden, whether they live in a dorm or an apartment. This farm gives students that chance.

Thanks for reading!

Kim Scherman


(785) 218.9488