Program Highlights

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.

The program is still growing, 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. In 2014, we added an electric fence to our lower garden to prevent raccoons and other intruders. crops

Water Conservation

For our indoor growing areas, we are constantly making improvements to our irrigation systems. Our growing tables are currently being outfitted with a variety of water-delivery systems that operate on timers. These help 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.

Soil Conservation

In 2011, a compost program was established at the Farm. Compost is organic material that can be used as a soil amendment. It is a cheap source of quality soil amendments and uses and recycles waste generated by the campus dining-halls. EPA requirements for compost piles are: at least 200 feet from a body of water, to be set up on an absorbent material (dry leaves, mulch, etc.) and it needs to be bounded by an embankment to stop surface runoff.compost

Composting takes place as part of an educational curriculum thus it is not regulated like a solid waste composting facility so long as the composting facility is operated as part of curriculum. As per EPA requirements, the Farm can only accept waste products generated within the organization and must not be considered a nuisance by our neighbors. Scraps from food preparation in campus dining halls are collected on a daily basis. They are placed into 96-gallons bins, and brought weekly to the Farm. Bins are dumped onto existing piles, and the scraps are broken down into compost. This compost is used as a soil amendment the following year in the high tunnels and gardens.

Crops and Produce

In addition to 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. As of 2017, we currently serve CWRU's campus dining service, the Bon Appétit Management Company, six Cleveland- area restaurants, and occasional local visitors of our farm. In 2014, we began producing oyster mushrooms in what was previously used as a root cellar. This project has been a huge success, producing at least 15 lbs of mushrooms per week, on average. In 2015, we looked into ways to improve this production, as well as to add more permanent fruit plants to our growing space, including currants, blueberry bushes and strawberry plants. We look forward to expanding our operations, with a strong focus on maintaining the projects we currently have in place. In doing so, our hope is to increase production and reduce energy expenditure.

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, Case student