The Universityâ€™s Sustainable Food Program empowers students to create a sustainable food system
Since 2005, a student organization known as Cultivating Community is growing vegetables on the campus of the University of Michigan. At the beginning, it was only a garden, but now it is an actual campus farm, where last year the students even constructed a sizable hoop house. This way, Michigan students are reaping the benefits of their farm all year-round.
From its part, the university has supported the studentsâ€™ efforts via its Sustainable Food Program (UMSFP), by providing them with the needed space and the funds for hiring a farm manager. This initiative has helped the students learn the more technical side of agricultural business, including obtaining the proper certification to sell the vegetables they grow. â€œIt is critical that institutions like the University of Michigan help create the next generation of researchers, educators, innovators, and engaged citizens in this dynamic, trans-disciplinary and critically important fieldâ€, says Jeremy Moghtader, the Universityâ€™s campus farm manager, pointing out that the farm is not a way of providing food but also an out-of-classroom education for the students. â€œDevelopment of the Campus Farm as a living learning laboratory, in partnership with stakeholders across campus engaging in teaching and research, and while producing high-quality, delicious, and nutritious student-grown produce for use in residence halls, is a big part of how we hope to create those outcomes here at UM,â€ he added.
The university plans on expanding the program and aims to build two more passive solar greenhouses this fall, creating more opportunities for student engagement and leadership during the academic year. The vegetables harvested from the Campus Farm could serve the needs of Michigan Dining in preparing student meals.