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A Circle of Food

The Campus Farm is an outdoor classroom where students grow produce for the University and Ann Arbor community while learning about sustainable food systems.
By Jena Brooker, ’19

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Eat a stir-fry, salad, or stew at one of U-M’s dining halls, and chances are some of the vegetables have come from the Campus Farm, less than 10 miles away. Located in U-M’s Matthaei Botanical Gardens, this hidden gem, created in 2013, spreads across nine acres, employs over 25 students, and last year provided $135,000 worth of produce and plants to the University. Beyond being the perfect farm-to-table model, it also serves as an outdoor class for sustainable food systems.

“The farm is a way for students to be a part of the food system but not just as a consumer,” explains the Campus Farm’s manager, Jeremy Moghtader, ’98, MS’04. “By learning where the food comes from, the impact of how it is grown, and by helping to grow it themselves, we serve as a platform for engaging these students in deeper conversations about sustainability,” says Moghtader, who has worked at the farm since 2016.

Staff members were uncertain in March what the summer season would look like due to COVID-19. But by taking extra precautions — like pausing the volunteer program and following the University’s COVID-19 guidelines — they were able to keep operating at full capacity. The adoption of these precautions was a smooth transition for the farm. Certified as a Good Agricultural Practices entity, it already followed strict food-safety guidelines.

Michigan Alumnus gained an inside look at the farm this past summer by tracking tomatoes and Swiss chard from planting to plating.

 


Jena Brooker, ’19, is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Ann Arbor Observer, Planet Detroit, and Curbed Detroit. She was a student manager at the Campus Farm for two years.

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