Welcome to the Sustainable Agriculture Student Association Blog! We are the Sustainable Agriculture Student Association and we call a beautiful piece of A&M turf, The Howdy! Farm, our home.
The Howdy Farm initiated a student organization, The Sustainable Agriculture Student Association (SASA), in 2011 in order to form a unified body of volunteers and foster an experiential learning community to expose students to aspects of local and organic agriculture. The association accomplishes this goal by creating educational opportunities for those individuals interested in sustainable agriculture. The Howdy Farm currently sees around 350 students a semester from a combination of volunteer students and courses offering credit for service. Students involved with the farm come from various colleges and backgrounds.
About Howdy! Farm
Established in the fall of 2009, the Howdy Farm is a student lead initiative that seeks to promote local food, facilitate organic research, and enable students to experience agriculture hands on. The farm was founded by students motivated to create a sustainable agriculture learning facility for organic agriculture, and ultimately a more sustainable campus. The farm was introduced to the campus as a source of local, organic produce for students dining on campus. The interest in the farm has grown in the past three years, and the farm has grown with it earning grants from the Aggie Green Fund in 2011 and 2012. The Howdy Farm’s area has grown from several raised beds to a five acre farm located on the west campus of Texas A&M University. The interest in the farm has grown in the past three years, and the farm has grown with it earning a grant from the Aggie Green Fund in 2011 and 2012. The farm relies mostly on a volunteer based workforce.
The overall purpose of the student organic farm is a certified organic student farm that provides organic, local produce for the campus and community, while at the same time providing a working organic farm for experiential educational, research, and extension activities.
The Howdy farm will benefit students, the campus, and the greater community by:
1. increasing the environmental sustainability of the campus’ food system
2. increasing access on campus to local, healthy, organic food
3. increasing experiential education opportunities in sustainable and organic agriculture for students
4. reconnecting the local community to their food source
5. establishing a unique opportunity for faculty to work with students in conducting research and extension that benefits the state of Texas
Where you can find our produce…
The crops grown at the student farm are distributed to many different sources, including: Texas A&M University Dining, the student farm CSA, and Farmers’ Markets in the Brazos Valley and Houston.
Texas A&M University Dining became the student farm’s first customer in the winter of 2009. This partnership has grown, culminating in nearly 1300 pounds of fresh, student grown produce being served to students at the Sbisa dining hall in the fall of 2010.
The student farm has been largely supported by a community-supported agriculture (CSA) marketing system, with CSA “share-holders” receiving a weekly supply of fresh produce.
In the fall of 2010, the Howdy farm began to market produce at the Brazos Valley Farmers’ Market giving students experience in direct sales as well as reaching out to a community of potential volunteers interested in local food production. There are plans for the student organic farm to re-establish the on-campus farmers’ market in order to provide fresh, student-grown produce directly to the Texas A&M campus.
The student farm also held weekly donations for the Bryan soup kitchen as well as a large donation in December, providing fresh produce to over 100 families. The student farm has also run variety trials on a number of crops with the results open to the public.
In the Spring of 2012, the Howdy farm was able to secure a booth at the Urban Harvest Farmers’ Market in Houston opening a further avenue for product sales as well as exposing students to the business side of horticulture education.
The Howdy Farm receives no financial funding from Texas A&M University although it does receive in kind access to a tractor, greenhouse space, farmland, a work-truck, and water for crops. The farm was initially supported by an initial $50,000 grant awarded by the student body’s Aggie Green Fund to create the student farm. This money was used on capital costs to purchase additional equipment necessary to operate a small farm. The farm is intended to serve as a not-for-profit interdisciplinary educational venture that seeks to combine the world’s of agriculture education and business. As part of his 485 directed studies internship course, Matthew Weintrub researched and analyzed the sustainability of running a student farm. From May 2011 – July 2012, the farm has grossed $29,394.59. Despite rapid growth and close to $17,000 in gross revenue since January of 2012, the farm is barely meeting its payroll. Ideally, the farm would have to take in $40,000 annually to be self-sufficient.