Nick Ludolph, a 22-year-old geography and environmental studies major, sells produce at the Boulder County Farmer's Market for the CU student-run farm, Beyond Organic, on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010. Aside from the Farmer's Market, Beyond Organic generates revenue from the CSA program and relies on student volunteers. (CU Independent/Sara Fossum)
Beyond Organic Farm is striving to provide healthy food to the Boulder community while learning about sustainable agriculture.
Kyle Baker, a 22-year-old senior majoring in environmental studies, is the Community Supported Agriculture coordinator for the farm. Baker said the farm is a mixture of CU students, volunteers and local farmer John McKenzie and is becoming a viable source of organic produce.
Beyond Organic Farm was founded in early 2009 by Baker and McKenzie, who is also the executive director of Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance.
Baker said that during their first year of operation he apprenticed with McKenzie and learned about how to successfully run a farm. Beyond Organic Farm now employs four full-time employees, all who are CU students, and has a large pool of volunteers.
“Since we’ve opened we’ve had about 500-600 volunteers working in cycles,” Baker said. “We also have about three to four interns every semester. They’re usually environmental studies majors or are taking classes that deal with sustainable initiatives.”
Baker said the success of Beyond Organic Farm is due largely to the work of volunteers. He said that because they have had so many volunteers the farm can keep labor costs down, allowing them to grow more quickly.
Lauren Bronson, a 22-year-old communication major who graduated in May, volunteered over the summer at the farm.
“It was a peaceful and relaxing place,” Bronson said. “I’ve never really done farm work before and they were really nice and welcoming and helpful.”
Baker said that the CU student-run farm generates revenue by selling over 40 different kinds of fruits, vegetables and herbs, grown from April to October, at the Boulder County Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
According to the Beyond Organic Farms website, the rest of their capital comes from the CSA program where community members can buy produce or shares from the farm directly throughout the growing season.
Beyond Organic Farm works toward producing food in a healthy, environmentally friendly way. According to their website the farm “plans to track and model all inputs and outputs…model the exact amount and location of land developed by each crop. This will allow us to put a numerical value on all green house gases.”
Baker said that even though the farm has only been in operation since 2009, they have made a name for themselves and continue to see demand.
“Getting brand recognition has taken awhile but we have seen an increase in demand from the community,” Baker said. “This week our first order ever of vegetables for the Boulder Valley School District goes out.”
While many community members and the BVSD have embraced Beyond Organic Farm, Baker said CU does not sell the farm’s produce on campus.
“We’ve tried to sell to the school and reach out to them but have had difficulties getting to the point where CU will buy from us,” Baker said.
Greg Swenson, a spokesperson in the Office of Media Relations and News Services at CU, said that CU needs large quantities of produce all throughout the school year for the UMC and dining halls.
“When it comes to produce and those kinds of products we need enough to provide thousands [of] meals for faculty, staff and students every day,” Swenson said. “We need a reliable flow all year round.”
In spite of difficulties thus far in selling to CU, Baker said that they will keep trying to build a connection with the university.
“Our farm will continue to try and work on forming a relationship with CU and see if we can get our CU student-grown crops to CU,” Baker said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alex Lemley at Alexandria.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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