Campus Student Organic Farm starts crowdfund for hoop house extension

Bridget Janis, Features Editor

The Campus Student Organic Farm (CSOF) provides the community of Oakland University students, faculty, and staff with fresh produce, engagement programs and education. To help continue supporting the campus, the group has started a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to extend its hoop house.

The farm grows over 50 different types of fruits and vegetables and sells them at a farm stand on campus every Thursday through Oct. 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. near the Oakland Center and Elliott Tower.

Ashton Nietzke, a member of the CSOF, said the farm helps students increase their knowledge on foods.

“I think it’s important just in general because for people, a lot of people don’t know where their food comes from,” Nietzke said. “So, here on the farm, we’re able to teach students exactly where it’s coming from, how to grow it, and it’s something they can take with them down the road. Use it at home or use it in a community and help the community around them.”

This year the CSOF members want to increase their production rate by extending their hoop house, a climate-controlled area heated by the sun and cooled by the wind, often described as a soft-sided greenhouse. The extension will allow the CSOF to extend its season for growing fruits and vegetables to up to nine or 10 months and protect the plants from the weather.

In order to achieve this goal, the group has launched a crowdfunding campaign in hopes to raise funds for the extension.

“We have found that our hoop house, which was built by students in 2014, is only 13% of our cultivated space but 40% of our revenues come from that,” said Dr. Fay Hansen, CSOF faculty adviser and an associate professor of biological sciences. “These weather changes are really hurting us badly, so by having climate-controlled space, not only can we produce more, we have more weather protected space for more student activities and community engagement.”

Extending the hoop house will also increase the revenue the CSOF is earning. Since the farm is self-funded, growing over a longer season will increase its ability to have more opportunities and help the farm grow more in the future. They will also help them in the educational aspect by being able to offer more fall and winter classes. 

“By having all that extra food, it helps the campus community, too, because we’re able to provide fresh produce a lot longer into the year,” Nietzke said. “So, even in late November or mid March, people are going to be able to buy fresh produce from the OU farm.”

The CSOF provides farm shares to people, which is a subscription for anywhere between eight to 20 weeks of weekly shares of the farm’s produce. There is a waiting list for the farm shares, and extending the hoop house would allow more people to be part of that weekly subscription. 

The end goal is to raise $4,500 through the crowdfunding campaign. To make donations to help the CSOF reach its goal and to learn more about how to get involved with the CSOF, visit the Organic Farm Hoop House Extension Project website