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For Immediate Release
Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Consumer's Energy Foundation grant to aid organic farming outreach
     Rochester, Mich. – 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.

From left, Oakalnd University Acting Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Dr. Tamara Jhashi, Student Organic Farm Vice President a Marcie Nido, Consumers Energy Foundation representative Ursula Warren, SOFP Farm Manager, Jared Bogdonova Hanna, OU Professor of Chemisty Kathy Healy Moore and SOFP Faculty Advisor Fay Hansen were present during a grant funding presentation designed to support SOFP operations and expansion.

     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."

     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.

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Oakland University is a doctoral, research-intensive university located in Oakland County, Michigan. The university has 139 bachelor's degree programs and 127 graduate degree and certificate programs. Dedicated to delivering a distinctive undergraduate experience that is complemented by the strength of its graduate offerings and research accomplishments, Oakland University is organized into the College of Arts and Sciences, the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine and the Schools of Business Administration, Education and Human Services, Engineering and Computer Science, Health Sciences, Nursing and The Honors College. Visit Oakland University on the Web at