Michigan State University’s Student Organic Farm is one of the oldest, most highly regarded programs of its kind in the nation. Find out what it takes to keep this student-run farm in peak condition, starting with the planting season.
he 15-acre certified organic farm, with 20,000 square feet of passive solar greenhouse space and cold storage, is home to the first
year-round Community Supported Agriculture program in Michigan and provides fresh produce for a campus farm stand as well as some dining halls.
Year round, student farmers dedicate themselves to learning every aspect of what’s required for a successful growing season, from agricultural practices to management to business plans.
Come harvest time, they share the fruits—and vegetables—of their labor.
Planting it forward, Hoophouse style
When dressing to attend a gala fundraising dinner to support MSU’s Student Organic Farm, guests are as likely to reach for their denim jackets and cowboy boots as they are for a tuxedo or pearls.
But such attire is in the right spirit for the farm’s annual Hoophouse Gala, where attendees support student farmers, not amid swaths of opulence, but surrounded by a bountiful harvest right on the farm.
Last fall, the Student Organic Farm Scholarship Endowment grew by $80,000 when 270 guests came together for the fifth annual Hoophouse Gala. A collaborative effort by the Division of Residential and Hospitality Services and the farm, the event has become a fall tradition at MSU.
Each year, guests dine alfresco on a sustainably produced, high-end sampling of farm-raised and local produce, prepared by Spartan chefs. Thanks to the generous support of gala attendees past, the event also celebrates student scholarship recipients.
To date, 16 students have been awarded Larry and Faylene Owen Emerging Farmer Awards and Vennie Gore Emerging Farmer Awards. Faylene Owen serves on the MSU Board of Trustees and Larry Owen is a former trustee. Gore is MSU’s Vice President for Auxiliary Enterprises.
Event attendees also make donations throughout the evening, most recently to raise funds for building a barn at the farm. The barn will provide student workers with a dry, protected space for teaching and learning, space for storage as well as the ability to host more special events.
Plans are underway for the sixth gala in the fall of 2014.Make a gift to the
Student Organic Farm online