History of the Farm
The Student Organic Farm is a student-initiated project. In 1999, a group of students wanted to have a place to apply some of the things they were learning in their classes on campus, to learn things they were not getting in classes, to farm organically and to get their hands dirty with some hands-on farming experience. At the same time, Horticulture Professor John Biernbaum began researching possibilities for 4-season farming in Michigan. The marriage of these two projects became inevitable as year-round farming provided opportunities for students to engage in farming during the main part of the academic year (September to May).
With leadership from John, the original core group of students built 3 passive solar greenhouses at the farm and in the Spring of 2002 began their first season of production. The students were interested in following the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model. With cold storage and the hoophouses, the SOF started the first year-round CSA in Michigan, and one of only a few in the entire country. The CSA currently serves over 65 weekly shares year-round and over 100 during the summer.
From the beginning, the aim of the farm was to provide a place where students could come and volunteer, work, visit, and have input on the development of the land and farm. As a result of the vision and hard work of many, the farm has flourished. Over the last 11 years the farm has developed into a place where many different groups are able to engage with growing food and creating learning opportunities through farming.
As the farm developed, it became clear that many students wanted the farm to offer a more formal approach to learning about organic farming. The Organic Farmer Training Program was a product of the evolution of the ideas and vision held by the original group of students and faculty and all those who have come since then.
The MSU Student Organic Farm and its programs are managed and coordinated by the SOF Steering Team with input from the farm staff, instructors, students and other faculty.