University of Wyoming Students Provide New Ways to View Food

Eric Lovell, ACRES Student Farm Treasurer, at the farmers market on Sept. 15, 2017.

Do you hate grocery shopping at the store? Do you like knowing where your food is grown? Do you like to experiment with new foods? Maybe ACRES Student Farm is the solution. ACRES Student Farm is just that, a vegetable farm run completely by students.

ACRES Student Farm sells produce at the farmer’s markets as well as to the Laramie community through their 12 week Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

The CSA program provides different shares of that week’s harvest to the members in the community who bought either full shares or half shares.  Sometimes the half shares get the same mix of produce as the full shares or they get completely different. It depends on the harvest that week.

“The CSA program is really great for both the buyers and for the farm,” says Lauren

Lauren Miller, ACRES Student Farm Secretary showing off some eggplant. Image: Laramie Boomerang

Miller, ACRES Student Farm Secretary. When ACRES has a large harvest the community gets a larger share but if there is a smaller harvest then the shares are smaller as well.

The University of Wyoming completely student ran farm is located on 30th and Harney in Laramie, Wyoming. ACRES stands for Agricultural Community Resources for Everyday Sustainability.

ACRES Student Farm started in 2006 when a student, Mary Huerter, wanted to create an operating student farm in order to fulfill the internship requirement for her degree. The farm now has compost piles, hoop houses, growing fields, a solar-powered harvest house, and a research building with a couple of greenhouses attached all on 1.8 acres of land. The farm still provides many internships to a variety of students today.

“ACRES is engaged in more than just growing and selling,” according to Donna Brown, College of Agriculture and Natural Recourses faculty and CSA program member, “the CSA program is a great opportunity to try new things that you normally would not.”

“It is amazing what the University has given us the opportunity to do,” said Lauren. The student farm “allows students to experiment in a way that’s real with real-time effects.”

At ACRES Student Farm there is more to do than just grow crops though that is their main attraction. “You can build whatever skill set you want to,” said Lauren, “and you don’t have to be an agriculture major to get involved.” ACRES has their own compost piles, as well as experiments going on all the time so there are many opportunities for people to explore.

For the compost piles, ACRES gather materials from several community restaurants and University of Wyoming ones as well to add to their compost piles. The microbiology students also do a senior capstone project with the ACRES compost piles.

ACRES teaches leadership and organizational skills as well, “sometimes you don’t realize how critical timing is with planting,” said Lauren. That is where those organizational skills come in handy.

“ACRES isn’t just education for the students but for the community as well,” said Donna.

The student farm has work days where anyone is welcome to come in a lend a hand. On most Saturdays, the community can drop-in and explore the grounds, help with the produce, or just hang out and see what goes on. This helps to keep the community involved in the student farm but also helps the students to build communication and leadership skills as they speak to community members and answer questions.

The CSA program pickup is on Tuesdays and with the “community built in, you see the same people every week, so you build a relationship with them,” Lauren stated.

ACRES provides a way for the community as well as for the students to experiment with new vegetables. The community members come pick up their shares of that week produce. When they get home and look at their goodies sometimes they are greeted but some surprising things.

The community members come pick up their shares of that week’s produce. Then when they get home and look at their goodies they find some familiar vegetables and sometimes they are greeted with some surprising things.

“They don’t just give us this strange stuff, they give us ideas of how to use them,” said Donna, “like Nasturtiums.”

Nasturtium, an edible flower. Image: Google images

People receive produce in their shares that they may have never seen or heard of before, however, ACRES tries to provide the community with useful tips and recipes to use the produce that the community got in that week’s share.

“ACRES makes you think of food differently,” Donna stated.






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