The Campus Student Organic Farm (CSOF) at Oakland University recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to expand their hoophouse, which will allow the CSOF to become even more sustainable in the future.
“When we built our original hoophouse in 2014, it was a game-changer in terms of our production and revenues,” said Dr. Fay Hansen, an associate professor of biological sciences and faculty adviser to the CSOF.
Similar to a greenhouse, a hoophouse is used to extend the growing season of a farm or garden.
Oakland University Women and Philanthropy members provided an initial seed grant of $5,000 in 2018 to expand the structure, and funds raised during the current crowdfunding campaign will help move the project forward to the “build” stage, which will involve hands-on activities by several different classes and community organizations, as well as community education events.
“Currently, the hoophouse at the CSOF takes up only 13 percent of the total land used by the Organic Farm, yet it provides 40 percent of their profit because of the weather protection it provides,” Hansen said.
“The extension will add 50 percent more area to the original hoophouse, which will make an enormous difference for our ability to produce more crops year-round for our campus community,” she added.
Over 50 different types of vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs are grown on the farm, which is operated by OU students, faculty and staff. It is located on the southeast corner of campus at Adams and Butler roads.
“The CSOF does not receive funding from OU and is dependent on produce sales, donations and grants to pay for the student crew needed to operate the farm and also oversee our many volunteers,” Hansen said. “The farm management and operation requires a crew 10 months of the year. We also employ two student farm managers and numerous part-time students in the summer and several part-time students throughout the year. The leadership training our students receive in these positions is invaluable.”
The produce harvested from the CSOF gardens is distributed to the campus community through the student-operated Campus Farmstand, which is held every Thursday, starting in the second week of July and running through the second week of October. The farmstand is located near the east entrance of the Oakland Center.
Produce is also distributed through the CSOF Farm Share program, which consists of a weekly half-bushel share of the farm’s seasonal produce.
“In addition, we donate produce to local food bands and service providers whenever we can,” Hansen said.
Through its crowdfunding campaign, the CSOF hope to raise $4,500. To make donation, visit the Organic Farm Hoophouse Extension Project website.
To learn more about the CSOF, visit oakland.edu/biology/organic-farm or contact Dr. Fay Hansen at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.