You can grow your own food. We can help.

Garden Project Coordinators Group

Welcome Campus Farmers!  

UPDATE: Campus Farmers and most of its members have moved to an independent website, CampusFarmers.org. We've left this legacy content here in case it's useful to you, but for up-to-date networking and questions, you'll want to connect us with us there.

If you have a question or suggestion about Campus Farmers, please contact campusfarmers@gmail.com

 

If you want to start a garden or farm on your campus and are looking for guidance on where to begin, this is the spot for you. Read through the information below to build a checklist of important questions, then hop over to the Resources page to start searching for answers!

SECURING SOME LAND: You may want to file this under “Obvious, Stating The,” but in order to start your campus farm, you need access to some land. If your campus has a Facilities Department, start there. Facilities managers usually know what land is open, if it’s earmarked for any particular use or new construction and whether there’s access to water and/or power. Once you’ve figured out that there is indeed a plot of land that meets your requirements – sun, water, clean soil, no immediate plans for development – you can go ahead and seek permission to start growing food there.

DIRTY DIRT: Contaminated land can be a serious issue in many urban areas. Make sure you check your soil before beginning farming. Inexpensive soil tests can be conducted via mail at several labs across the country. Your state’s Cooperative Extension office may offer free testing, or you can use a soil testing company such as Timberleaf Soil Testing. If soil contamination is a problem, consider raised beds or greenhouse production!

PERMISSION TO FARM: Depending on your college, you may need to jump through a few hoops before you can start building hoop houses. Some administrations may require a proposal be submitted to the right department at your school, or a formal lease agreement may be necessary. Visit the CF Google Drive for great examples of both.

FARM PLANNING AND DESIGN:  You’ve got the land, now it’s time to start sketching your farm’s layout. Before you get too ambitious, though, think about your volunteer base. Starting and running a farm requires many hours of dedicated labor — especially during the summer. If there are only a few of you, it’s time to start reaching out to fellow students before you plant five rows of tomatoes. Student groups concerned with food, the environment, and climate change may all want to pitch in and help build your farm from the ground up. You might also try linking up with professors and/or departments at your university that share common interests with you. Class projects, independent study projects, and extra credit are all great ways to get more people involved.

Some questions to ask yourself about design: Is there a place for people to stop and enjoy the greenery? Will joggers or students late for class be able to cut through without trampling your plants? If you have the land long-term, why not plant some fruit trees? If your farm is very public, it might be a good idea to reach out to local landscape architects – one may do some “pro bono” designs for your space. The Resources page has links to books and sites that can get you thinking about great designs, as well as sample designs for school farms that are growing lots of healthy food and beautifying their campuses.

TIME TO PLANT: Knowing what crops to grow is something with which both beginning and seasoned farmers struggle. Each piece of land has its own personality – and it may be a couple seasons before your know your land’s unique temperament. Talk to local farmers – they are your best allies when it comes to knowing your climate, your soil, and what grows well in your region. One great way to connect with fellow farmers in your region is through the KGI network. Additionally, you can research specific topics—such as soil fertility and organic composting—via the KGI activity stream or posting specific questions to the CFI group or the larger KGI community. Our Resources page also has links to sites about regional planting schedules and key crops, as well as classes and certifications for finessing your growing skills. 

START-UP FUNDING: Seeds, shovels, trees … maybe a greenhouse? It’s important to think of all the equipment and materials your new endeavor may require and estimate how much it will cost. The CF Google Drive has sample budgets that detail the typical start-up costs of a campus farm.

Once you have a budget, it’s time to raise the funds. Apply for grants, seek donations from students and faculty, try your hand at crowdfunding on Kickstarter or Indie Go-Go, or host a “farmraiser” – a fancy, farm-fresh dinner at the soon-to-be farm. The Resources page has links to helpful fundraising books and ideas.  

Depending on your size, many farms can be run on a shoestring budget. Seek used and donated tools and equipment, ask for last years’ seeds from local garden stores, create wishlists and put them out to the local gardening community. You may be surprised by how much food you can grow without spending a dime!

Sometimes, local corporations will come out to a farm and volunteer both their money and labor toward a specific project, such as building a greenhouse or laying irrigation. Organizations such as One Brick and Volunteer Match will get you connected with large groups of volunteers, many of whom can become funders too. KGI also has information about grants and partnerships. Fundraising can seem intimidating at first, but remember – when you communicate your passion and vision to the world, it becomes contagious!

SELLING WHAT YOU GROW:  Before you start, you want to ask yourself: What is the goal of your farm? Is it to grow to sell, or to grow to educate? That’s going to make for different types of operations and funding requirements. Some campus farms prefer to focus on education — showing students where food comes from. If that’s your dream, talk to your university administration, relevant academic departments, and even your campus food service provider to see who would be willing to help fund you. For many farms, ongoing costs can be funded through the sales of produce. If your farm is large and well-staffed enough to produce a significant volume of fruits and vegetables, chances are that produce sales could be enough to sustain your farm’s operations after a couple of growing seasons. Visit the CF Google Drive for sample business plans, or keep reading. Whatever your scale, you want to make sure that your food gets eaten. Avoid wasting what you grow by utilizing different outlets for your produce, which you can learn about in this document in the Google Drive. 

MARKETING: Is your farm online? Farming is more about weeding than websites, but you do need an easy way to tell people about when and where to buy your produce. Consider starting a Facebook page, or if you have the time and skill, build a simple website using free website design options like WordPress or Weebly.

COMMUNITY MATTERS: Once you’ve started a farm, the next step is to make your farm an invaluable part of the campus community. That way, when there’s talk of development or other uses for the land (many campus farms have come and gone thanks to competing interests), you have a tidal wave of support to keep the farm. Here are a few ways to enhance community support of your farm project:

A. Farm-based education: Reach out to relevant departments and interested faculty about integrating the farm into their curriculum. Environmental Studies, Biology, and even the Business School may be interested in using your farm as a “living laboratory” for their classes. The possibilities for garden-based curriculum are endless. Also, local K-12 educators may be excited to have their students come visit, and having field trips from local students is a great way to integrate into the broader community.

B. On-farm events: Farms can provide so much more than good food. Consider hosting a farm festival a couple times each year. An Earth Day event in April and a Harvest Festival in the fall are both popular days to host events. Festivals can be simple or elaborate, be focused on students or local families, and can also serve as a great fundraiser for your farm. The CF Google Drive has sample event flyers.

C. Community workdays and potlucks: Nothing makes a community gel like farming and eating together! Consider hosting a regular monthly workday and potluck, and have a list of farm tasks that can be done by young and old, fit and frail. The bonus? People share amazing recipes, and might even help you put together a farm-fresh community cookbook.

 

 

 

 

Take advantage of the Campus Farmers activity stream to share and comment on photos, inquire publicly about a great find in the Google Drive, or troubleshoot the best method for writing your first garden grant. The stream appears on this tab and also at the bottom of every other tab.

Join the conversation! 

In each of the sections below, we’ve compiled documents, web resources, and good old-fashioned books that will help you on your farm-starting journey.  The CF Google Drive has additional documents uploaded by your fellow campus farmers — and we’d love for you to share yours!

Think of the Google Drive as an shared online library: you can upload documents you've created and peruse documents uploaded by other students. If you have a great hoop house design or annual report, other students will benefit from your expertise. If your campus farm or garden is just an idea in your head, this Google Drive is a treasure trove of valuable resources teseted and approved by fellow students. It is organized into subject folders so you have an easier time finding what you're looking for!

Our How-To guide contains all the information you need about accessing and uploading to the Google Drive. Don't hesitate to email us at campusfarmers@gmail.com with questions!

1. BUSINESS PLANS AND PROPOSALS

Every farmers needs a plan and good records. Share your business plans and proposals for land, department sponsorship, and administrative support. Don't forget to document your ideas and practices. Whether you run a commercial business or a community plot, share reports so other farmers learn from your hard work.

Other Suggested Resources

-Fields of LearningThe Student Farm Movement in North America, edited by Laura Sayre

-The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook by Richard Wiswall

-You Can Farm: The Farmer’s Guide to Start & Succeed in a Farming Enterprise by Joel Salatin

-Rebel Tomato's first-steps guide to creating a community garden proposal

2. PHYSICAL LAYOUT AND STRUCTURAL DESIGN

What should your growing space look like? Do you want raised beds or in-ground rows, and how many? How do you build fences and hoop houses on a budget? Where will people hang out after a hard day's work? Use this folder to share site designs (or check out others for inspiration!)

Other Suggested Resources

-Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison

-How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons

-The One-Straw Revolution: Introduction to Natural Farming by Masanobu Fukuoka

-Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway

-Food Not LawnsHow to Turn Your Yard into a Garden And Your Neighborhood into a Community by HC Flores

3. PREPARING, PLANTING, and PEST CONTROL 

Seeds, compost, and soil, oh my! Share your advice and plans for crop rotations, amending soil, and healthy compost recipes. Have a trusted seed company or effective strategy for managing pesky potato beetles? We welcome your home-grown wisdom here.

Other Suggested Resources

-Timberleaf Soil Testing

-Sunseed Crop Planning Spreadsheet

-Composting Basics

-Grow Biointensive

-Permaculture

-Master Gardeners

-Let it Rot! by Stu Campbell

-The Rodale Book of Composting by Grace Gershuny and Deborah L. Martin

4. BUDGETS AND GRANT PROPOSALS 

How much does it cost to start an on-campus farm compard to a small garden plot? What basic equipment, tools, and materials will you need? How do you explain your farm goals to funders? These sample budgets and proposals will help you make sense of big questions about money.

Other Suggested Resources:

-Foundation Directory

-Farmraiser Planning Guide (PDF)

-Kickstarter

-Kickstarter School (a guide to crowdfunding success)

-Indie Go-Go

-Grant Writing 101 by Victoria M. Johnson

-Writing for a Good Cause by Joseph Barbato

5. MARKETING AND EVENTS

Looking for enthusiastic volunteers? Trying to increase campus awareness about your farm? This section has sample marketing pieces, event flyers, and ideas from other CFI members.

Other Suggested Resources:

-Sell What you Sow: The Grower's Guide to Successfull Produce Marketing by Eric Gibson

6. CLASSROOM CONNECTIONS

Have you written a sociology paper on food communities, an environmental science report on organic herbicides, or a policy brief about food deserts? Share academic papers, projects, and more here to show that food is every student's issue.

7. MISC.

If it doesn't fit into any of the above, you can find it here. If you have suggestions about new categories we should include on this page, please give us feedback at campusfarmers@gmail.com

 

tariq tanveer posted a status update 
in the Garden Project Coordinators Group group
tariq tanveer posted a status update 
in the Garden Project Coordinators Group group
cam_bell posted a status update 
in the Garden Project Coordinators Group group
Help! Rodale Institute's Farming for Credit Directory has disappeared, and I need a list of on-campus farms/gardens in Canada for my undergrad thesis research. Any ideas?
West Coast Fellow posted a status update 
in the Garden Project Coordinators Group group
Hey campus farmers! I am working with a college that is interested in starting an aquaponics project and hopes to eventually sell tilapia to their school's cafe. I am wondering if any of you out there are already doing anything like this and would be willing to talk to me about your experience! You can e-mail me at claire.cummings@bamco.com or call me at 650-906-3436...any help would be greatly...
BAMCO commented on image
Duke Campus Farm commented on U of Oregon Urban Farm - status 1675451340
The University of Oregon Urban Farm is happy to have joined the group.
Duke Campus Farm commented on ccstudentfarm@gmail.com - status 1189906075
Thank you for inviting the Colorado College Student Farm to join this group! Looking forward to this collaboration!
Duke Campus Farm commented on image

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Type Title Posted by Replies
Status ... tariq tanveer 1 year 6 months 2
Status ... tariq tanveer 1 year 6 months 0
Status Help! Rodale Institute's Farming for... cam_bell 1 year 9 months 0
Status Hey campus farmers! I am working with a... West Coast Fellow 1 year 9 months 0
Status Hey campus farmers! I am working with a... West Coast Fellow 1 year 9 months 0
Status The University of Oregon Urban Farm is... U of Oregon Urb... 1 year 11 months 1
Image U of Oregon Urb... 1 year 11 months 0
Status Thank you for inviting the Colorado... ccstudentfarm@g... 1 year 11 months 1
Image ccstudentfarm@g... 1 year 11 months 3
Status SCAD is excited to begin construction... SCAD university... 1 year 11 months 1
Status Love Fulton Farm's new suggestion, this... Duke Community ... 2 years 14 hours 0
Status Welcome campus farmers! Here's how to... Roger Doiron 2 years 6 days 0

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Garden Project Coordinators Group Members

About us:

KGI is a nonprofit community of over 30,000 people who are growing some of our own food and helping others to do the same.  

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Kitchen Gardeners International
3 Powderhorn Drive,
Scarborough, ME, 04074, USA
info@kgi.org
(207) 956-0606