The goals of the Farm Food Program are to provide new educational opportunities to faculty and students to study local food production in a sustainable way using mostly organic methods, and to deliver fresh produce and herbs to the campus.

In fall of 2009, the Farm administration worked to design a pilot project to start food production in February, 2010. Bon Appétit gave two gifts to the farm to help with the initial costs associated with acquisition of materials such as growing media, containers, fertilizers, seeds and plants.crops

Labor to produce the more than 6 tons of food grown in 2010 was performed by farm staff, student staff, student volunteers and other members of the community, including local high school students and faculty.

During 2011, more than 40 products were grown at the farm indoor and outdoor planting areas. The total production was over 7,000 lbs by the end of the year. Volunteer labor increased from 20% in 2010 to 25% in 2011 growing season.

In 2012 total farm production surpassed 10,000 lbs and new products included fresh honey, blueberries and oyster mushrooms.

Although the farm food program is not USDA Certified Organic, it uses techniques that are consistent with the principles of organic gardening. We use no herbicides, instead favoring the time-honored and labor-intensive tradition of manual weeding. When needed, more productive, gas-powered handheld tillers are used sparingly. Organic fertilizers are used as alternatives to traditional quick-release chemical fertilizers and instead of chemical insecticides, bio-controls such as predatory insects and plant derived solutions are employed for pest control as well as pest population monitoring systems.

It is still a young program with room to grow, but we endeavor to work with nature to produce healthy, fresh produce for our dining facilities. In our outdoor planting areas, we deal with the ever-present predator pressure from deer, rabbits and other would-be crop thieves with the use of deer fencing and an organic repellant made primarily from garlic and putrescent egg solids known as Liquid Fence.

Future Goals

For our indoor growing areas, we are constantly making improvements to our irrigation system. Our growing tables are currently being outfitted with a variety of water-delivering systems that operate on timers which help to control and limit the waste associated with overhead hand watering. We have also expanded the use of our existing rainwater harvesting system with the goal of collecting and using all of the rainwater from our greenhouse gutter system.

Besides continuing to increase the size and scope of food production to supply an even greater percentage of the food consumed on campus, we hope to branch out into other areas.

I went to the farm this November. It is so beautiful! The clear blue sky, the tall trees surrounding the homey houses, the smell of fresh earth and the delicious-looking vegetables growing in the gardens.

I loved everything about it! I met a lot of new people there and it was great fun working in the gardens. The whole experience was interesting and educational, since I learned a lot about plants also. I would definitely do that again if I have the chance!

Han Xu, CWRU student