About the Organic Farm
Connected to main campus by two trails through the campus forest, the Organic Farm is a working small-scale organic farm that serves as a learning laboratory focused on small-scale organic agriculture. The Organic Farm currently produces fruit, vegetables, eggs, chickens, herbs, cut flowers, bees and plant starts.
Located in the northwest portion of the Evergreen campus the 5-acre developed area includes the Farmhouse (built by students in the 1970’s), 3 acres of fields and orchards, greenhouses, a wash station, a composting facility and miscellaneous outbuildings.
The Organic Farm is Certified Organic by USDA, and has been certified Salmon Safe since 2008. In order for the farm to receive Salmon Safe certification, the farm must demonstrate the following:
- Work diligently to protect riparian areas
- Maintain appropriate water use
- Reduce erosion
- Practice integrated pest management
- Sustainable and ethical animal management
- Biodiversity conservation in accordance with both Salmon Safe and Organic certifications.
A Living Laboratory
Since 1972, the first growing season on the farm after Evergreen's founding, students have been central to its success. Students built the Farmhouse and greenhouses throughout the 1970s, and the farm did not have a permanent program faculty member until 1981. It continues to operate as a learning laboratory through the Practices of Organic Farming (POF) program. POF runs spring through fall each year to align with the growing season.
Students enrolled in this program work as interns on the Organic Farm throughout the growing season, with support from staff, faculty, and student farm aides. Through maintaining the farm, they learn a variety of agricultural skills, including (but certainly not limited to):
- Organic growing methods emphasizing soil health and water conservation
- Crop botany
- Planting, maintaining, and harvesting a range of crops
- Animal husbandry skills (chickens, bees)
- Sales and marketing through a farm stand and other direct-sales outlets
- Creating value-added products (jam, salves)
- Integrated pest management (IPM)
- 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, whether or not they continue pursuing agriculture.
Throughout the years, students have completed various projects, such as constructing the Organic Farmhouse, designing the Sustainable Agriculture Lab, expanding the orchard, designing and installing a Food Forest, and compiling Farm history.
Student Groups and Activities at The Organic Farm
Community Gardens is a Student Activities group dedicated to providing gardening space to members of Evergreen and the greater Olympia community. Every year, the Community Gardens hosts a Harvest Festival at the Farm to celebrate the end of the growing season!
Demeter’s Gardens is a community-based demonstration site, embodying the principles of permaculture and perennial polyculture systems.
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.