An Organic Urban Farm on the OU Campus? It's In the Works
A grant from a local foundation will pave the way for an urban gardening project on campus.
An Oakland University student program will benefit from a $20,400 grant to support an urban gardening project on campus.
The project's goal? A self-sustaining, USDA-certified organic farm that the community will be able to benefit from, too.
The grant from the Americana Foundation – a Novi-based agriculture advocacy and education organization – will support OU's Student Organic Farming Program.
The funding will be matched by Oakland University, according to a campus news release. It will specifically support the hiring of a farm manager to oversee farm production, coordinate student volunteers and assist with community outreach programs designed to improve access to fresh, local produce.
The produce would be sold on campus, which would eventually make the farm self-sustaining, leaders say.
"We're looking to establish a long-term, sustainable campus and community gardening program that has educational advantages as well," said Fay Hansen, an associate professor of biological sciences and faculty advisor to the farming program, in the news release.
The farming program, which began as a student club in 2008, has partnered with the Baldwin Center and the Kennedy School in Pontiac as well as with OU's Center for Autism Research, Education and Support. In these partnerships, kids and young adults learn about the benefits of growing healthy foods locally.
"We see the farm as a great resource on campus, one that can help get people thinking about a number of important issues – anything from the availability of fresh foods to protecting environmental health," Hansen said.
"Students here are really beginning to learn where their food comes from and what it means to their health. We'd like to see that kind of learning happening on an even wider scale as we move forward."