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Howdy Farm reaps organic produce

Published: Monday, June 25, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 19:07

Tucked behind the School of Rural Public Health on west campus, a hand-painted sign
that reads “Howdy Farm” marks the entrance to an 18-acre cropland.

Howdy Farm, managed and cultivated by students, is an organic farm that provides produce for students on and off campus.

“I started going out there just sort of on a whim,” said English major and co-manager of the farm, Lindy Reese. “They were just so kind and welcoming. It made me feel like I was part of something that was bigger than myself.”

The mission of Howdy Farm is to facilitate education and show students how they can contribute to agriculture.


“To bring home an armload of vegetables and be able to say, ‘I grew these and now I’m going to cook with them tonight.’ That’s just a really good feeling,” Reese said. “I loved at the end of the day being sweaty and smelly and having felt like I accomplished something.”


Howdy Farm, founded in the fall of 2009 by Brady Grimes, has developed an interactive way to teach students the importance of sustainable farming.


“We aspire to be the beacon of sustainability for the state of Texas and a source of pride for Aggies worldwide.  We want to become the best student farm program in the nation by establishing an interdisciplinary experimental program,” said Matt Weintrub, farm manager and junior horticulture major.


Sustainable farming is considered to be just a fad by some, partly due to a lack of published research.  Some people find it hard to believe it is worthwhile and beneficial because of this gap of information.  Ph.D. student, Bubba Lamolinare and other students are working to acquire and document more scientific research on sustainable farming.


Lamolinare said Howdy Farm is the first sustainable and organic garden in the history of the University.


The Howdy Farm recently received a $96,000 grant from the Aggie Green Fund.  It plans on using it to build a sustainable greenhouse teaching facility.


“We want it to be a greenhouse, with a cooler … and a big front porch where classes can come. We want solar panels. We want it to be the coolest thing you’ve ever seen,” Reese said.


He said having a permanent structure will increase the farm’s attraction and integration of students because the farm is not limited to agriculture students.


The farm sells its produce to on-campus dining facilities University Club and Sbisa Dining Center. University President R. Bowen Loftin announced last Thursday that Dining Services, include Sbisa, will be outsourced to foodservice management company Compass Group USA.


Sherylon Carroll, A&M associate vice president of marketing and communications, was unable to comment on whether Howdy Farm products could still be sold to Sbisa, because the contract with the company is pending.


Reese said losing profit from Sbisa would not harm the farm’s incoming revenue.


“[We] just want to maintain the whole goal of ‘Aggies feeding Aggies,’ and maintaining that relationship,” she said.


At the end of every week, the farm usually has produce left over and they take it to the Bryan Farmer’s Market and the Houston Farmer’s Market. Whatever doesn’t sell is donated to the Brazos Valley Food Bank and Women’s Shelter.


“We want to encourage healthy living and we want people to get back to their roots and connect to their food source, and actually realize what a broccoli plant looks like,” Reese said.  “Food doesn’t come from the store. It actually comes from a field.”



 

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