Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington Assistant Professor James Farmer will soon be able to bring to life his plans for a campus farm thanks to an award from the newly formed Indiana University Sustainability Innovation Fund. The fund was created to increase sustainability on the Bloomington campus while engaging students in high-impact learning opportunities.
“The Sustainability Innovation Fund is designed to give diverse teams of faculty, staff and students an opportunity to discover solutions to today’s most pressing problems, working across multiple disciplines to bring research, teaching and operations together,” said Bill Brown, university director of sustainability. “The fund offers an exciting opportunity to build and leverage existing IU Office of Sustainability Working Group capacities to generate productive operations and academic solutions for sustainability, all while welcoming new campus collaborators to participate.”
Farmer’s project proposes the development of a campus farm at the Hinkle-Garton Farmstead in Bloomington, Ind., in partnership with Bloomington Restorations Inc. The mission of the farm will be to promote sustainable food systems education through research, creative activity, service and outreach.
“The farm team was elated to be picked for the inaugural Sustainability Innovation Fund award and is eager to break ground on the campus farm,” said Dr. Farmer. “The IU Campus Farm will present an excellent opportunity for research and creative activity, teaching, learning and community outreach — not to mention food production.”
Lea Woodard, coordinator of Hilltop Gardens, is a team leader along with Farmer. Additional team members include Corben Andrews, a sophomore environmental science major; and Jacob Mills, a sophomore in the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program.
The farm has support from faculty in the IU departments of anthropology, fine arts, geography and biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Public Health-Bloomington, all of whom are in need of a space for intensive learning experiences. It is also supported by Chef Dave Tallent in Residential Programs and Services and Chef Chris Gray in Indiana Memorial Union Restaurants and Catering by Sodexo.
Although the current campus garden will remain in place, the newly proposed farm will be able to provide produce to RPS and Sodexo at a scale that is not currently feasible. The IU Campus Farm will be a laboratory for teaching, research and service, providing space and infrastructure to workshop and learn.
Financial support from the Sustainability Innovation Fund will provide the seed funds of $50,000 necessary to initiate and grow the endeavor over the first few seasons. Additional external funding will be sought to increase capacity at the farm. The groundbreaking is expected to occur in late May.