About the Organic Farm
Connected to main campus by two trails through the forest, the Organic Farm is a working small-scale USDA-certified organic farm that serves as a learning laboratory. The Organic Farm currently produces fruit, vegetables, eggs, chickens, herbs, cut flowers, and plant starts. In recent years, it has also housed several beehives. Its 5-acre developed area in the northwest portion of Evergreen's campus includes the Farmhouse (built by students in the 1970s), 3 acres of fields and orchards, a food forest, greenhouses, a wash station, a composting facility and miscellaneous outbuildings.
A Living Laboratory
Since the first growing season on the farm in 1972, students have been central to its success. Students built the Farmhouse and greenhouses throughout the 1970s, without a permanent program faculty member until 1981. The farm continues to operate as a learning laboratory through the annual Practices of Organic Farming (POF) program, one of several programs on Evergreen's Food and Agriculture Path. POF runs spring through fall each year to align with the growing season.
In this program, students intern on the Organic Farm for almost nine months, with support from staff, faculty, and student farm aides. While maintaining the farm, students learn a wide variety of skills, including:
- Organic growing methods emphasizing soil health and water conservation
- Crop botany
- Planting, maintaining, and harvesting a range of crops
- Animal husbandry
- Sales and marketing through a farm stand and other direct-sales outlets
- Creating value-added products (jam, salves)
- Integrated pest management
- Team work, leadership, and communication
Academic work in agricultural sciences supports this internship. Problem-solving serves as a keystone to the learning experience. Students collaborate in groups to work through complex challenges on the farm and gain valuable experience for any future career, agriculture or not.
Collaborations and Independent Study
Beyond the core POF curriculum, Evergreen students over the years have taken on projects as large as constructing the Organic Farmhouse, designing the Sustainable Agriculture Lab, expanding the orchard, designing and installing a Food Forest, and compiling Farm history.
The farm regularly hosts collaborative research projects undertaken by faculty and students through Evergreen's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships. Each summer since 2017, SURF students and faculty have designed and carried out field studies according to Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC) specifications. Over the course of the summer, SURF participants have gathered data on the growth patterns, disease/insect/pest infestations, yield, and flavor of numerous tomato and chicory varieties.
In 2019, the Organic Farm hosted a field study on tomato varieties with a SURF student who used a drone to capture footage of the farm during the trials.
Student Groups and Activities at The Organic Farm
The Medicinal Herb Garden is a classical European four-square garden of herbaceous and woody plants featuring medicinal and culinary herbs such as angelica, vervain, agrimony, rosemary, and sage. Students in the Herbal Medicine Club help maintain this garden.