More than Organic

Madison Callan Evergreen reporter

Students gain understanding of where their food comes from through service opportunities offered in a partnership between the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) and WSU’s own Organic Farm.

The new partnership gives students the chance to not only gain community service hours through the CCE, but to also learn how organic produce moves from the field to the table, said senior organic agriculture major Jesse Naylor.

“It’s nice for students to understand where their food is coming from. It’s important for people to be involved in the process,” Naylor said. “There’s a major disconnect between our age group and where our food comes from. For most people, food just comes from the grocery store.”

Junior Organic Farm volunteer Shane Reed started helping at the farm as a class requirement.

“I had heard about the farm and orchard before,” Reed said. “But without the CCE offering it as an opportunity, I had no idea that students could come here and volunteer.”

Although Reed came to the farm to fulfill a course requirement, he would like to continue volunteering.

Reed also believes it is important for students to experience how food grows.

“This is vital for the future,” he said. “As the population grows, the demand for food grows, and by coming here, people can know how to grow their own.”

Naylor agrees with Reed, believing even something small can have an impact.

“If people have their own little garden, it doesn’t seem like much but it can make a big difference,” Naylor said.

Naylor worked at the WSU organic farm, as well as another local farm over the summer. He now works for the CCE, bringing students out to become more involved.

“The farm is a big part of this community,” Naylor said. “It’s operated by community supporters, who donate money for equipment and seeds, and then Brad (the farm manager) grows it. It’s also funded by the school, which connects students to it even more.”

Naylor said the farm needs volunteers.

“I don’t know if some people want to come out and get dirty because it is hard work,” said Naylor. “But it’s also more than that; the farm is like a community.”

Along with a need for more volunteers, the group also needs more space, he said.

“This is a pretty small farm, it’s only about four acres, and in the next few years the organic farm will be moving to a new, larger location,” Naylor said.

In a short period of time, it will take over about 36 acres and become more educational, he said.

Naylor believes this will provide a giant jump for students across multiple disciplines. More space will be available for those who are studying agriculture to use different types of equipment, as well as room for landscape architecture students to work there.

The Organic Farm was certified organic in 2004 and remains certified by the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

CCE sponsors volunteer hours and offers transportation to and from WSU’s Organic Farm every week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30-3:30 p.m. now until Nov. 28.