Expansion of The UW Farm

Executive Summary:

With support from the CSF, we will expand our practice to an additional full acre of land on campus, adjacent to the Center for Urban Horticulture. Expanding the production capacity of the UW Farm will allow us to amplify our contribution to the UW‟s sustainability mission in several ways. First, it will enable us to solidify a relationship with Housing and Food Services (HFS). HFS is interested in purchasing farm produce to use in campus dining halls and small cafeterias. Second, the UW Student Food Cooperative will be operating in full capacity next year, running a cafe space in the South Campus Center and a food cart for Red Square. They plan to source a substantial amount of their produce from the UW Farm. A strong relationship with the Student Food Cooperative will help generate awareness on campus about the social, economic, and political issues surrounding food, from farm-to-table. Third, we will create a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, which will teach farmers tangible and realistic business skills associated with the production of food.

Student Involvement:

Our proposed project is brimming with opportunities for students to develop their leadership skills. The UW Farm already prides itself on guiding students to leadership roles. We have many opportunities for students to practice these skills--from helping to organize a pizza bake to organizing the Farm‟s planting schedule for the upcoming year. We have a Dirty Dozen program for students interested in learning about farming, as well as for-credit internship opportunities through the Biology Department. These programs are designed to place student learners in teaching roles as they become the backbone of volunteer leadership over the course of the quarter.

It is our vision that the UW Farm expansion project will only increase our ability to develop these types of leadership opportunities. Specifically, we will continue to develop and train student tour leaders. We will formalize and expand our education about sustainable vegetable production, strengthening the UW Farm‟s internship program, providing necessary sustainability in both knowledge and organization. We are working with Seattle Tilth‟s Youth Garden Works program to create possibilities for UW student farmers to become mentors for at-risk homeless high school students interested in sustainable food production. And lastly, we will work with our new space partner--the Center for Urban Horticulture--to develop a permaculture „food forest‟ which will be installed and cared for by UW student farmers.

Education & Outreach:

In the 2009-2010 academic year alone, over 1,600 students in classes from numerous UW departments, including Environmental Science, Biology, Geography, Anthropology, and Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, as well as students from several K-12 schools, used the UW Farm as an outdoor classroom. The expanded site will allow for even greater numbers of students to visit the farm. The expanded site will also facilitate the integration of the UW Farm with a proposed “Food Studies” track within the UW College of the Environment. This integration is expected to lead to the development of an urban agricultural research program and numerous food-related courses at the UW.

Another educational benefit of the expansion is the potential to create a partnership with Seattle Youth Garden Works (SYGW), a local organization that recently established a small farm near the Center for Urban Horticulture. SYGW empowers homeless and marginalized youth through garden-based education and job skills training. There is enough space for both organizations to exist without interaction; however, the potential benefit that can come from a collaborative partnership is enormous. We have met with SYGW leaders to discuss creating a partnership that would engage via collaborative work parties, joint workshops, and UW student–SYGW teen mentorship programs.

Environmental Impact:
  • Food
Project Longevity:

Environmental Problem:

In setting a proud example of sustainable urban agriculture on the University of Washington campus, the UW Farm strives to turn students‟ attention to the crucial question, “Where does the food we eat come from?” Today approximately 80% of United States citizens live in cites. Opportunities for city dwellers to be exposed to the systems that grow sustainable food are few, and will continue to diminish unless deliberate steps are taken to ensure otherwise. Our current industrial food system feeds people, but not soils, it prioritizes short term profits over long term sustainable food production, and erodes the viability of rural communities. The UW Farm expansion effort is our attempt to demonstrate through the sustainable production of vegetables, that another system is possible, prudent and timely. In growing food sustainably and sourcing our food locally - to students, through Housing and Food Services (HFS) and the UW Student Food Cooperative (UWSFC), we will be able to help our students re- connect with the source of their food.

Explain how the impacts will be measured:

Total amount requested from the CSF: $76,020
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


Developing a farm on campus requires a substantial amount of infrastructural development. At our current site of only 1/4 acre, we have expanded both our infrastructure and space to their maximum capacity. Our new farm location is currently an empty field and will need many improvements. The larger infrastructural requirements include: irrigation, tools, tool storage, washing station (for meeting state health requirements), potting supplies and equipment, salaries for student Interns (this is critical during the Farm‟s initial establishment), compost infrastructure, soil amendments and seeds. The UW Farm will be respectfully requesting $76,020 from the Campus Sustainability Fund to help cover these expenses and implement our expansion project.

Non-CSF Sources:

Project Completion Total:


TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date

Project Approval Forms: