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UCSB's new campus farm aims to help feed, and teach, students

Amarica Rafanelli/KCBX

UC Santa Barbara has broken ground on a new student farm, in an effort to address on-campus food insecurity.

The 12,000-square-foot farm is cushioned between the mountains and the ocean on the university’s West Campus. The farm isn’t quite a farm yet. It’s more of a field. But according to UCSB’s Katie Maynard, that field is headed for big things.

“Raised beds, a greenhouse, a compost education space, worm-based composting, hot composting, pile composting,” Maynard said.

Maynard heads up UCSB’s Edible Campus program. The program aims to address local food insecurity by repurposing underused spaces for food production.

“Currently we have 48 percent of undergraduate students surveyed at UCSB reported food insecurity in the past year, and 31 percent of graduate students,” said Maynard.

The fruits and veggies grown on the farm will be donated to UCSB’s food pantry. Once the farm is up and running, students will have access to fresh produce that was picked the same day.

But the farm is more than just a place for producing food. It’s also a space for learning. Maynard hopes the farm will help students learn more about where their food comes from.

“We waste a tremendous amount of food in this country and my belief is that’s because we don’t appreciate the work that goes into our food,” says Maynard. “When we bring college students out to one of our campus gardens and they see how much goes into that, they say, ‘you can’t throw out that tomato.’”

The Edible Campus program will start construction on the farm in January by building beds and tilling soil. Once the seeds are planted, it’s only a matter of time until the farm starts producing crops—hopefully by April, Maynard said.

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