Research farm growth to include community farm stand

REF summer

Created in spring 2013, the Research and Education Farm (REF), including a research lab, greenhouse and open land for farming, is a place where students learn about sustainability and gain applied experience in the field. Undergraduates are studying the process of growing food from field to plate, understanding the practice and importance of organic produce. The farm is a learning tool for all students, especially those in the sustainability and environmental management major.

With the arrival of summer, students are planting varieties of lettuces, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, melons, corn as well as herbs, including basil, cilantro and parsley. The students are also placing companion plants such as wildflowers near produce varieties. This partnership supports healthier vegetable growth as pairings bring beneficial insects, rejuvenate the soil and assist in pollination. As produce begins to grow at a rapid rate, students will launch a farm stand beginning in July, where farm-grown organic items will be available for purchase to the community.

“Now that we have gained footing and expanded the farm over the past year, we are happy to bring a service to the community through the local farm stand,” said sophomore and REF student manager Landon Baumgartner. “We’re excited to implement ideas that we have been growing during the winter months, as we continue to build upon the idea to serve students as well as local friends. It’s so great to see the farm stand become a reality.”

Students will also monitor their summer research projects, which include weed control tactics, optimal water and pressure levels for favorable plant growth, and composting.

Complementing GWC’s sustainable practices, students have recycled wood from old residence hall bunk beds for use in vermicomposting bins, flower bed frames and for the creation of the farm stand. Produce and flowers will continue to be used on campus including the dining areas and the Conference Center.

The Research and Education Farm is located on upper campus on North Lake Shore Drive. For more information on the sustainability and environmental management major, visit gwc.aurora.edu/academics.