The University’s Urban Farm project — a program of the Landscape Architecture department and the Student Sustainability Center — received $42,000 last term from the ASUO Over-Realized Fund to help secure more land and resources to meet increasing student interest.
“I am excited for more students to be able to participate at the Urban Farm and to learn about the Eugene food shed, about the food community and be able to find that joy that so many people have to be in soil and grow things,” Sustainability Center Coordinator Louisa de Heer said.
Part of the funds will go toward land. The program is expanding from its single lot by the millrace to three new lots close to Agate Hall and the Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Living near East 18th Avenue and Moss Street. De Heer said that the new tracts are expected to become a sort of buffer between campus and the Fairmount neighborhood to strengthen ties between the University and local homeowners.
The other part of the funds will go towards creating another graduate teaching fellow position to help current Urban Farm Director Harper Keeler in the classroom and with hands-on instruction. The extra position will allow more students to enroll in the class which currently only has 200 spots over four terms. It will also create a freshman seminar and residential Freshman Interest Group for first-year inclusion in the project. There will even be spots available for any interested student outside the program to come in on their own time and cultivate.
“The Urban Farm class is as popular as any class at the University and only fourth-year seniors can generally get in,” Keeler said. “To have an additional area for students to grow their own food and learn about food issues is really important.”
Both Keeler and de Heer expressed gratitude towards the student leaders who allocated the money. They are excited to start the expansion with the support of the ASUO Over-Realized Fund.
“Senate support has been crucial to making this project happen,” de Heer said. “We are extremely grateful for over-realized funds.”
Emma Newman, chair of ASUO’s Over-Realized Committee, said that the popularity of the class is what pushed them to give these funds to the Urban Farm.
“It’s so popular that second-term seniors aren’t even guaranteed a spot in the class,” Newman said. “We wanted to open it up to the broader student body because its a great opportunity for students to learn skills on how to produce their own food and some of the food will even be used on campus.”
For now, the program will finalize the acquisition of the land and start planning the overhaul on the new tracts. De Heer hopes to have students out there working by summer term to allow as many students as possible into the program.