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Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - Help OU’s organic farm grow with crowd-funding campaign
By Katie Land, news editor


This fall, Oakland University’s Student Organic Farm Program is looking to grow more than just produce. With deep roots on campus, SOFP works to promote healthy living, advance academic study and support the community.

Now the group is looking to extend their growing season and expand their impact through a crowd-funding campaign. Their goal: to raise the money to build a hoop house – a solar structure for year-round farming – that will allow SOFP to extend their growing and teaching schedule an additional three to four months.

The campaign will run from Thursday, Sept. 19, through Saturday, Sept. 21. 

Show support and help SOFP grow by participating online or through Facebook at facebook.com/StudentOrganicFarmersatOU.

“We are committed to providing healthy local food for our own students. Beyond that, we are very involved in providing food, education, services, and training for our primary service area, Pontiac, as well as other communities,” said Fay Hansen, associate professor of biological sciences and SOFP advisor.

“The hoop house provides indoor production in the cool and cold seasons and also gives us an ability to start transplants outside earlier, for earlier spring crop production. The hoop house also means that we can extend our offering of classes in organic farming into the cold season – basically our main two academic terms – which will benefit a lot of students.”

Learn more about the benefits of a hoop house in the video below:




The campaign will kick off with a Farm Olympics event from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19, outside the Oakland Center and Kresge Library. The festivities will feature games and prizes, along with the opportunity to donate.

At the same time, the farmers will also host their weekly farm stand, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. between the Oakland Center and Kresge Library. The stand will be open each Thursday throughout the fall with organic produce such as kale, collards, eggplant, tomatoes, summer squash, zucchini and scallions.

The hoop house represents a substantial investment and will cost roughly $30,000 total, which includes staff, equipment and infrastructure, construction, grading of the property and the addition of a water line. SOFP hopes to bring in $5,000 through the crowd-funding campaign and is also pursuing grant support through several foundations.


SOFP was initially created as an OU student club in 2008, but has since evolved into a multi-faceted, wide-reaching operation that supports the community, provides academic instruction, and teaches students the methods of organic gardening in an urban or suburban environment.

Rediscovering a connection to food is a topic that has taken off in recent years, according to Hansen.

“Communities are coming together to re-claim a connection to the food system and to find alternative ways to obtain healthy choices and sufficient fresh produce for all,” Hansen continued.

“Schools and college campuses are among the leaders in this movement, which has gone beyond the realm of agronomy to an interdisciplinary effort. SOFP is in a strong position to be a community leader and a resource for the provision of trainees who can make a difference in community food production and also education about food, health, and sustainability.”

The group does this in several ways. They work to teach volunteers, students, and community groups the methods of organic farming. Outside of the classroom, SOFP has affiliations with community groups such as the Baldwin Center in Pontiac, Waterford Transitions, the OU Center for Autism Research, Education and Support, and the Kennedy School's program for young developmentally disabled adults.

Get involved or learn more about Student Organic Farm Program activities, meetings and membership, at the Facebook page

To learn more about academics, achievements, and events at OU, visit the news site at oakland.edu/newsatou and follow the news team on Twitter at @OaklandU_News.

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