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Agroecology and environmental justice: A look inside Stanfords ODonahue Educational farm
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Agroecology and environmental justice: A look inside Stanfords ODonahue Educational farm

Patrick Archie walked among the vibrant fields at Stanfords ODonahue Educational Farm, pausing every few yards for photos and descriptions of the budding produce. Archie, a particularly talented photographer, is Interested?He has been working in sustainable agriculture for over 10 years as the Farms Director.

The Farm, which is managed by Archies, provides hands-on opportunities for community members and serves as a sanctuary for the greater Stanford community. The farm offers many opportunities for students to learn about and appreciate the land they live on, including welcoming volunteers on Saturday mornings and Wednesday mornings.

The School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences founded Governors Corner’s Farm after more than twenty years of advocacy by Earth Systems department students. The farm, like all Stanford’s campuses, is located on the ancestral land the Muwekma Ohlones.

Archie explained how Farm uses agroecological relationships to increase the diversity of its crops, including over 200 varieties. He stated that part of the Farm’s mission was to challenge the agriculture industry’s traditional ways of extracting wealth from the land.

Agroecology students are particularly interested in the Indigenous roots and design of agriculture. Archie said that it was designed to help the community. Agroecology refers to the study of agricultural practices that integrate with the natural environment and not force it to adopt unsustainable or foreign farming techniques. Archie stated that agroecology is a support for farming that is not just designed to extract and sell to distant market. He stated that the Farm’s primary goal is to feed its community.

The Farm harvests over 15,000 lbs of produce annually. This produce is then sold to campus dining, as well as local chefs or caterers. The Farm also produces thousands flowers that are cut, arranged, and sold in bouquets. This helps to generate additional revenue for students working at the Farm.

Archie stated that flowers are also in different crop families so they help us with our crop rotations. We manage the soil to make sure it is biologically rich, diverse and healthy. Rotating crops is one of the ways we break disease and pest cycles.

Another key component of Farms’ mission is environmental justice.

Archie used the phrase “liberation through land” to describe the intersection of Indigenous rights advocacy and agriculture. The Farm partners with Native Seed SearchThe organization collects ancient varieties of crops to create a drought resistant living seed bank. The Farm is currently growing Dene corn to help the seed bank.

Earthtones, originally known as Earth in Color, is an environmental justice festival organized by Natalie Cross 22, which is hosted each year at the Farm. The festival reimagines Earth Day in order to celebrate and center students of color’s stories within the context of environmentalalism. Organizers of Earthtones created a CollectionInstead of having in-person events, students can create and write art. This spring, Earthtones will be celebrated in person by community members.

Cross started as a farmhand in her sophomore year. She has remained in that role ever since.

I love being allowed to dig in the dirt and spend a few hours. Cross said that the Farm is great for keeping up to date with the school’s crazy events. Cross said that the Farm is a special place that has been a happy haven from all the chaos.

Stanford Roots is a student-run organization that helps out with harvests. It also hosts events such as pizza night or the Fall Harvest Festival on the farm.

Stanford Roots leader Diego Rafael Prez 23, who started volunteering at the Farm as a frosh, is now a co-leader.

Prez stated that I thought it was a great exercise to do in the mornings prior to classes to really ground and center myself, and remind myself why I’m here and what Im working towards.

Cross, Archie and Prez all stressed the importance of the Farm as a space that is accessible to all and is intended to allow community members to connect to nature and find a place to breathe in the chaos of campus life.

Archie said that everyone is welcome to the Farm. Everyone is welcome to share this farm. It is open to everyone. There are ways for everyone to plug in, regardless of whether you are a student, staff member or faculty member or a member of the local community.

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