MSU Student Organic Farm 2018 Annual Report: Affirming the Unique Opportunities of a University Educational Farm

The MSU Student Organic Farm 2018 Annual Report highlights the impact of their diverse programming and the partnerships that make them an asset to the MSU community

One picture of students standing in a field while the other picture is of a barn on a beautiful day.

The Michigan State University Student Organic Farm (SOF) had a landmark year in 2018! Started in 1999, the MSU SOF not only serves as a leading beginning farmer educational farm, but is also an employer for MSU students, a training hub for regional growers, and an applied research facility for MSU faculty and partners. Their recently released 2018 Annual Report highlights many of these accomplishments, along with the positive impact the SOF is having in mid-Michigan to support environmental and community health. Dig in to the report for all the details on the incredible year they had!

In 2018, SOF continued to build on programming that makes their high quality produce available to MSU and the broader community. Through wholesale partnerships, the MSU community can access SOF organic produce in ten campus dining halls. Partnering with MSU Culinary Services allows the farm to develop a dependable flow of income, while MSU Culinary Services can serve quality and nutritious food to the campus community. The farm has also continued to operate the state’s first year-round Community Supported Agriculture program, which allowed their 259 shareholders to access their produce through a subscription-based program, in addition to operating a farm stand on MSU’s campus for the broader community to access.

The SOF has built their reputation on being one of the leading educational farms in the country. Most notably, in 2018 their immersive Organic Farmer Training Program (OFTP) allowed 16 farmers the opportunity to learn from SOF staff and farmers around the state in a supportive community dedicated to sustainable growing practice. While the OFTP is the best known of its educational programming, the SOF expands their impact through providing hands on experiences for MSU undergraduate students. The SOF provides a “Living Learning Laboratory” for their undergraduate student farm crew, for Dietetics students who gain hands on experience volunteering on the farm, and for students who use the farm to apply classroom learnings. Through the Farmer Field School, staff also open up educational opportunities to the broader Michigan agricultural community. These half to full day in-depth workshops bring experienced farmer and premier agriculture educators to deliver education to both new and experienced farmers.

One of the most exciting benefits of having an organic educational farm on a University campus is the opportunity for collaboration with the broader university community. MSU Extension Educators provide some of the guest lectures at the OFTP, in addition to collaborating on regional outreach efforts. In addition, The MSU Student Organic Farm provides the unique opportunity for students, faculty and staff researchers to explore and develop solutions to problems related to sustainable agriculture. These partnerships allow MSU Researchers to develop valuable, applicable solutions that can take the impact of the SOF statewide. Some of their most notable partnerships in 2018 include developing innovative technological solutions to reduce weed pressures, assessing the impact of various soil building strategies, and increasing efficiencies of farm processes in partnership with MSU engineering students.

While 2018 was a banner year for the SOF, it is a launching off point for expanding impact and collaboration within the MSU community. Dig into the SOF’s 2018 Annual Report to learn more about the partnerships and programming that make the SOF an asset to MSU and the mid-Michigan farming community!

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