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Thursday, April 18, 2013 - Grant to aid Student Organic Farm Program at OU
OU's Student Organic Farm.
The Consumer's Energy Foundation recently awarded the Student Organic Farm Program (SOFP) at Oakland University a $5,000 grant to support general operations and expansion efforts, including the purchase of a hoop house that will enable year-round growing activities.

Produce grown by students in partnership with the Baldwin Center in Pontiac helps meet a strong need for fresh produce in the area's underserved urban communities.

"Very few people realize that Pontiac is one of the only urban areas in southeast Michigan that doesn't have a designated program to address the issue of access to fresh, organically grown produce for its' residents," said Fay Hansen, SOFP faculty advisor and associate professor of biological science at OU.

"The Student Organic Farm Program at Oakland University is working to change that. We've been fundraising and 'friend-raising' in an effort to call attention to this important issue. The Consumers Energy Foundation gift of $5,000 will move us closer to our goal of purchasing a hoop house … which will also to serve as a classroom to teach urban gardening programs so urgently needed for our service area of Pontiac and surrounding communities."

Representatives from OU and Consumer's Energy at a grant funding presentation to support SOFP.
Consumers Energy Foundation members are pleased to help the SOFP realize this goal. David Mengebier, foundation president said, "What makes this program so great is that the educational component leads directly to Pontiac residents enjoying fresh produce. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved."

The farm program was initially created as a student club at OU in 2008, but has since evolved into a multi-faceted, wide-reaching operation that teaches more than 50 students and student interns the methods of organic gardening during summer classes that emphasize hands-on participation.

In addition to expanding its educational and community outreach goals, OU's organic farm plans to expand its cultivation area to roughly one acre, and broaden organic farm data collection, tracking and reporting in order to help advance organic gardening advocacy. The latter goal will also help the SOFP pursue its goal to become a USDA certified organic farm.

Oakland University is a vibrant academic community with nearly 20,000 students and more than 260 degree and certificate programs. 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.