Lincoln graduates raising money for organic farm

Farm Forum

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Two recent graduates have been raising money to turn a half-acre of University of Nebraska-Lincoln land into an organic farm so students can dig a little dirt while learning.

Alumni Danny Martin and Jenn Simons are working with current environmental studies student Neil Tabor on the East Campus project, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

”This would be great for students to work in,” said Martin, who graduated in December with a bachelor’s in environmental studies. ”Any class could use it.” Simons said the student-run farm would provide real-world experience for students who have been relying on books and lectures – ”something that can really bridge that gap is something we’re missing.”

The three visited student-run organic farms in St. Paul, Minn.; Madison, Wis.; and Ames, Iowa.

”They were all different, very different,” Martin said. ”They gave us a good base for how to start ours.”

The three have a commitment from UNL for the land, and so far they’ve raised more than $2,000 toward the $3,500 needed to renovate a greenhouse on the site. They want to start planting late this month or early in April.

They’ve been working with Community Crops, a nonprofit that oversees 15 community gardens in Lincoln. Executive Director Ingrid Kirst said her organization was a financial sponsor for the project and has been providing some expertise on organic farming and food marketing.

The project would provide UNL students with experience in alternative farming methods, Kirst said, and could provide a source of organic vegetables for university residence halls.

”It’s a chance for them to see another way of farming,” she said of the students. ”Anybody who’s on campus will be able to see it.”