Photo credit: Dean Walton
“A person who undertakes to grow a garden at home, by practices that will preserve rather than exploit the economy of the soil, has his mind precisely against what is wrong with us.... What I am saying is that if we apply our minds directly and competently to the needs of the earth, then we will have begun to make fundamental and necessary changes in our minds. We will begin to understand and to mistrust and to change our wasteful economy, which markets not just the produce of the earth, but also the earth’s ability to produce.”
The Urban Farm is a model for alternative urban land use where people grow food, work together, take care of the land, and build community. Throughout its 38-year history as part of the Department of Landscape Architecture, the two acre Urban Farm has been a place and a process integrating biological, ecological, economic and social concerns. As recognition of the importance of food issues continues to grow and Landscape Architects more fully embrace the role food production plays in shaping places, the Urban Farm remains a model and a testament to the department’s commitment to sustainability. Most recently, the Urban Farm has been expanded to include additional growing spaces in partnership with the University’s long term planning goals. The design and construction of a new ¾ acre site on the eastern edge of campus has been installed to allow for more students and to provide a vibrant neighborhood amenity.
Students at Urban Farm come from virtually every discipline across the University to learn about where their food comes from and how their food choices affect change. We begin with our hands in the soil and learn to recognize that we are all part of the vibrant local agrarian community that defines the food-shed of Eugene. Along the way, we create and nurture relationships with like-minded community programs, offering guidance and hands-on assistance. Groups such as the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition, FOOD for Lane County, Huerto de la Familia, The School Garden Project of Lane County and many others have relied upon Urban Farm students for this help and guidance. In addition, students are introduced to local farmers and food processors and develop a ‘food literacy’ that emerges from a hands-on, interactive experience.
LA 390 Urban Farm is open to all students at the University of Oregon and can be repeated for a multi-seasonal experience. The course also qualifies for credit within the new Food Studies Program, either as part of an undergraduate minor degree or toward a Graduate Specialization. More information is available in the UO catalog, on the Urban Farm blog, or contact Urban Farm Director Harper Keeler at firstname.lastname@example.org .