OSU’s Giving Tuesday efforts to focus on OSU Student Farm

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Media Contact:
Gail Ellis | Editorial Communications Coordinator | 405-744-9152 | gail.ellis@okstate.edu

The Oklahoma State University Student Farm grew more than 54,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables in 2023 for Oklahomans facing
food insecurity.

The farm’s dedicated effort to address local hunger issues is the primary focus of
the OSU Foundation’s Giving Tuesday campaign, which falls on Nov. 28 this year. The
project’s multi-disciplinary approach to real-world education embodies the university’s
land-grant mission of teaching, research and Extension.

“The OSU Student Farm has received an overwhelming response from students eager to
learn in an outdoor environment where crop research and community engagement are the
foundation of a sustainable food production operation,” said OSU President Kayse Shrum.
“The university’s efforts to leverage its historic strength in agriculture while teaching
students and serving residents benefits everyone involved.”

In its first year of operation on three acres, two managers and a small team of OSU
student workers and volunteers planted and harvested cool-season crops and common
summer varieties such as cucumbers, broccoli, lettuces, zucchini, yellow squash, spaghetti
squash, tomatoes, green beans, okra, sweet corn, cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower, spinach,
onions and pumpkins.

Most of the Student Farm produce was donated to Our Daily Bread Food and Resource
Center in Stillwater, which serves Payne County residents. Fresh vegetables were also
provided to Pete’s Pantry for students to access on OSU’s campus.

The Student Farm integrates all areas of OSU’s land-grant mission, offering valuable
teaching opportunities and research projects while embracing the Extension mission,
which is deeply rooted in service.

“The OSU Student Farm gives us this wonderful opportunity to give our students hands-on
experience in a real-world production environment,” said Justin Quetone Moss, head of the OSU Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. “In addition,
they are getting involved in the community as they harvest the vegetables daily and
directly deliver them to Our Daily Bread.”

Student employees were involved in every phase of establishing and operating the commercial
garden; students prepared the soil for planting, installed an irrigation system and
built an 8-foot deer fence. They harvested ripe produce, removed weeds from rows of
plants and drove deliveries to Our Daily Bread.

“Growing produce encompasses many learning opportunities that are related to agriculture,
nutrition, soil health, irrigation and the agribusiness sector,” said Jayson Lusk,
vice president and dean of OSU Agriculture. “This unique experience will benefit students
far beyond the classroom.”

Through hands-on trial-and-error gardening, the crew determined its planting strategy
for 2024, which will include new items like asparagus and potatoes. The combined experience
of co-managers Lynda Carrier and Matt Beartrack includes 20 years of research on vegetable
variety trials. Their mentorship inspires the student workers with big dreams of tackling
food insecurity, conserving natural resources and promoting health through physical
activity, healthy food and ecological sustainability.

“It’s great to hear about the impact of the farm,” said public horticulture senior
Samantha Pratt. “Being able to put forth my effort toward something that means a lot
to people brings me joy.”

Located west of campus on Highway 51, the Student Farm is the former home of OSU’s
Swine Research and Education Center. The team is expanding the site with an additional
three acres for planting next spring.

Elizabeth Pollard, executive director of the Innovation Foundation at OSU, said she
welcomes collaboration between the Student Farm and foundation projects.

“The immersive experience of OSU’s Student Farm helps cultivate experiential learning,
addresses food insecurity and embodies a fusion of education and outreach, which are
tenants of a land-grant university,” Pollard said.

The Student Farm is rooted in an idea proposed by Darren Shrum, First Cowboy and husband
of OSU President Kayse Shrum.

“The plans for this project reach more than just agriculture,” Darren Shrum said.
“All colleges can be involved, from engineering to human sciences, and it ties into
the university’s focus on the One Health initiative that promotes a healthy lifestyle.”

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