Campus farm sprouts student involvement
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 01:09
The Howdy! Farm — an Aggie student run and operated organic farm on West Campus — is growing a vision for the future of A&M to enrich student’s time spent at school.
Howdy! Farm is an experimental learning lab established in 2009 by Brady Grimes, Class of 2012. Grimes wanted to create an environment that offered hands-on experience in agriculture and felt there was no avenue to administer sustainable agriculture in a classroom setting. The farm’s goal is to promote organic research in the state of Texas, connect people of the local community to their food source, serve as a location for hands-on learning and help make A&M a more sustainable campus.
Through the Aggie Green Fund, the Howdy! Farm received a grant in 2011 for $50,000, and this past spring received an additional $96,000. With this new money, the Howdy! Farm is hoping to implement a new plan to involve a larger part of the student body with interaction in agriculture through the creation of the Howdy! Farm Suitability Center. The grant describes a project that would be designed by students in the College of Architecture and constructed by students in the Department of Construction Science for use by all Aggies.
Lindy Reese, senior English major and Community Supported Agriculture director, said the farm is in a transition phase and hopefully will expand within the next couple of years.
“The directors are working on a project to expand the students’ views on the Howdy! Farm,” Reese said. “The farm is an experience all students can take part in.”
The Howdy! Farm directors envision the farm to be something that is part of the Aggie experience for students, not just for horticulture or majors dealing with agriculture.
Matt Weintrub, senior horticulture major and Howdy! Farm field director, said there is a vision for the future of the farm: expansion.
“We have a vision for the Howdy! Farm to create a board and expand the farm’s resources and people,” Weintrub said. “It’s my hope that it can ultimately become an interdisciplinary program for students that spans from different majors ranging from marketing to poultry science.”
The academic adviser for Howdy! Farm — a position currently held by Kevin Crosby, associate professor of horticultural sciences — would serve as chairman of the board, consisting of professors from multiple departments, in hopes that they would assist the students in relating subjects and curriculum into hands-on experience at the farm.
Bubba Lamolinare is the AgriLife extension adviser responsible for teaching the student directors the day-to-day aspects of running a farm. The existing student directors would take control from this point on and would keep the farm running along with interns and other students.
The farm has possible plans in the works to build a student living and learning community on West Campus, where the Howdy! Farm would become an integrated part of the project.
“The Howdy! Farm could one day become the West Campus grassy knoll with a white picket fence surrounding the area,” Weintrub said. “The students have given us a huge investment up to this point to create this incredible experience, which I think is important that the farm remain accessible on campus for future generations of Aggies to come.”
The Howdy! Farm also has a new project this year known as the CSA, which operates like a co-op farmers market. Students can sign up to receive produce between the months of October to January for either an eight or 12-week period.
Students, such as senior horticulture major Page Hamby, is currently taking a class at the Howdy! Farm. Hamby said she values the opportunity the farm has provided.
“The Howdy! Farm has given me some hands-on experience that has really sparked my interest in horticulture,” I’m glad A&M has such a mentoring experience that I could be a part of.”
BOX: To learn more about how to sign up for CSA and the Howdy! Farm, students can visit their Facebook page at TAMUHOWDYFARM or go to www.studentfarmblog.wordpress.com.