The Organic Farm is committed to education, research, and extension. As a teaching farm the primary goal is to pass on the skills necessary to grow organic fruits and vegetables in an intensive small-scale environment. The farm is available to the WSU scientific community to conduct organic research projects. In addition, the farm strives to provide fresh produce to local food banks and non-profits.
Ground was broken at the farm in the fall of 2003 under the direction of Dr. John Reganold, WSU soil scientist and professor, and Kathi Colen-Peck, WSU graduate student. Initial farm funding came as grants from Small Planet Foods and the Kellogg Foundation. These funds were used to acquire the first farm structures, basic hand tools, irrigation supplies, seeds, and support the payroll for the first season. The first field course was offered at the farm in 2004. In the fall of 2004, Brad Jaeckel, became farm manager and instructor. Brad owns and operates his own small farm in Moscow, ID.
The initial grant funding ended in 2004 and in 2005 the farm began an 85-member CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to generate funds for farm expenses. A harvest shed was built that year and more perennial crops were planted. Following the success of the 2005 season, the CSA increased to 100 members in 2006. The remainder of operational funding currently comes from the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources. In 2006, WSU approved the first organic agriculture major in the nation as part of its new Food Systems degree program. The farm’s summer field course, Soils 480 – Practicum in Organic Agriculture, became a requirement for the new major.
Farm structures include two small tool sheds, a 24’x24′ harvest shed/shade structure, two 20’x48′ hoophouses, one 26’x96′ hoophouse, a vermiculture bin,and a large area for collecting compost materials. As well as growing 30+ annual crops the farm is also home to a culinary herb garden, medicinal herb garden, asparagus, Italian plums, rhubarb, and raspberries. Irrigation water is supplied by WSU and an efficient drip system is utilized for almost all crops. Currently the farm enjoys a 24 week harvest season extending from mid-May to the end of October with approximately 120 frost free days. The farm manager/instructor and assistant manager are the only full-time staff while additional labor is provided by seasonal workers, students, and volunteers. By working with the WSU Center for Civic Engagement the farm addresses local food security issues and provides a location for volunteer participation.