The Campus Farm at Matthaei began as a project of three students working on their Master’s thesis in the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. Before these students adopted the idea of a campus farm as their own, thoughts of a campus farm had circulated for more than a decade. The students conducted the initial site assessment during a winter 2011 course called, “Sustainability and the Campus.” Soon after, a team of graduate students and undergraduate volunteers together built a 1/4-acre plot, and in the years since, it has grow into a 1.5 acre farm.
College: University of Michigan
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Size: 1.5 acres in production
Sales and Distribution: Produce from the farm is currently sold to University Dining Services, and also donated to Food Gatherers, a student organization that distributes food to local nonprofits feeding people in need.
Management Structure: The Campus Farm at Matthaei Botanical Gardens is a collaborative, multidisciplinary project. The farm team now includes a full-time faculty manager, 10 student managers, hundreds of volunteers, and countless collaborations with students organizations and researchers on campus.
Unique features: The Campus Farm at Matthaei Botanical Gardens prides itself on using agricultural methods that help the farm become a closed-loop system. These include organic practices that enrich the soil, rotating crops often, using little to no tillage, companion planting and incorporation of compost. Three new hoop houses now extend the farm’s growing season.