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Alex Armstrong, a junior at Ohio Univeristy, spreads out dirt in order to make a bed at the West State Street Research Site in Athens, Ohio, on Friday, March 29, 2019. As a part of his Sustainable Agriculture class, Armstrong is required to work 10 hours at the site.

Athens and Ohio University collaborate to make sustainable agriculture accessible for students

Ohio University hosts a variety of programs that prioritize sustainable agriculture and wellness for students and the City of Athens. 

One such program is the Ohio University student gardens, which markets fruits and vegetables to places in the community that do not have adequate access to nutritious foods. Carrots, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are among the produce grown at the farm. 

“The Ohio University Student Farm is a diversified, small scale, hand-powered produce farm that spans 1.3 acres,” said Arthur Trese, an associate professor of environmental and plant biology.   

Students can take Plant Biology 2060, known as Sustainable Agriculture, to gain classroom and gardening experience. They can also choose to complete an internship at the West State Street gardens during the academic year and in the summer. 

The plant biology department is also considering to offer a certificate a small-scale sustainable agriculture certificate in the future. 

“We don’t sell (goods) at the local farmers markets because we do not pay for student labor, land or water. We are a subsidy of the university, so it is not fair to compete with local farmers and step on their toes,” Trese said. 

The student farm sells their food near the Wellworks facility in Grover Center during the harvesting season. Wellworks has no formal partnership with the farm, but the farm aligns with their mission of fitness and personal wellness coaching. 

“I think it's incredibly important that we encourage our campus community to purchase local, organic produce and to promote a healthy diet and lifestyle,” said Annie Laurie Cadmus, Wellworks engagement and marketing coordinator, in an email. “The Student Farm is a fantastic (and delicious) avenue for sharing that message.” 

Wellworks also supports Community Supported Agriculture, where members purchase a share of farmers’ goods before the harvesting process begins. In return, members receive fresh fruits and vegetables on a regular basis.   

At the undergraduate level, the Patton College of Education and the Community Food Initiative is partnering up to provide the Discovery Kitchen where a chef from the Patton College teaches students to make meals that they get to eat. That program helps students connect to Athens as they begin the transition to off-campus living. 

Students can also shop at the Ohio Farmer’s Market for low-cost produce. 

"There are typically five to ten vendors from places like Crumbs Bakery, that supplies fresh bread. The turnout (at the market) ranges from 75 to 100 students, faculty, and staff," said Barb Harrison, OU Farmers’ Market manager and assistant director of the Campus Involvement Center. 


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