Michigan Sustainable Agriculture Network members and Michigan State University (MSU) students, faculty and staff met and began discussing the idea of creating a Student Organic Farm in the spring of 1998. Over time, a farm location was identified and in the fall of 2001, 15 students were meeting once a week to discuss marketing and management options and seeking funding to start the farm. With the help of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, construction started in the fall of 2002 and by spring 2003, the Student Organic Farm had evolved from ideas to reality.
“The farm has grown into much more than the original vision,” said John Biernbaum, MSU Professor of Horticulture and Student Organic Farm Faculty Advisor. It has become a place for students to see organic farming working, to learn how to run a profitable market garden, research new ideas in organic production methods or to just enjoy working with the earth. It has become an educational opportunity for not only MSU students, but for the community as well by offering tours and a variety of educational programs.
To insure sustainability of the farm, the 48-week Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program was created and has grown from 25 memberships in 2003 to 50 memberships in 2004 with a waiting list for future sessions.
“After years of hard work, we recently achieved a big goal in July 2004 when we received official certification from the Organic Growers of Michigan,” added Biernbaum.
The future objectives of MSU’s Student Organic Farm include building a root cellar and office space, bringing animals to the farm, supplying food for an environmentally friendly dorm planned for campus, creating an internship program, developing a certificate program in organic CSA and market farming, and creating service learning and volunteer opportunities.
For more information, visit www.msuorganicfarm.com.