Micro Farm uses education to foster teamwork

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UT’s Micro Farm was originally only intended for academic research and education, but it is also teaching members basic components of farming, including compost.

“What I learned was more about how useful and easy sustainable farming and gardening is because there’s absolutely nothing we need to buy to make the compost,” biochemistry sophomore Michael Blake said.

Lead project student coordinator Daniella Lewis said the Micro Farm will apply for another Green Fee grant next year. The farm can pay for materials through selling crops, but it has been in contact with the Division of Housing and Food Services, which it hopes will eventually support student interns, Lewis said.

The UT Micro Farm has established a good infrastructure since its start in October 2012. It has some compost piles and also two wicking beds geared toward water conservation, according to Lewis.

Lewis said the Micro Farm is a recreational project partnering with academic programs to foster involvement and research.

“More than physical importance, we can really make a big educational impact,” Lewis said.

Civil engineering sophomore Ethan Howley taught a Composting 101 class on Sunday at the Concho Community Garden, a garden associated with the Micro Farm.

“I really think the most important thing about compost is education,” Howley said. “If everyone isn’t educated, then the compost isn’t going to work out.”

Lewis said the Micro Farm hopes to update its blog this week and make it more of a resource that provides information on topics surrounding the Micro Farm. The Micro Farm is becoming more involved with other university academic programs including architecture, Lewis said.

Stephen Ross’ architecture class might build an aesthetic screen between the farm and the house it lies behind and Francisco Gomes’ class might build a shading structure for the Micro Farm’s prep station, Lewis said.

“We want to integrate with academics, and I think that there’s a lot of opportunity for that on-site,” Lewis said.

The farm is still in its early stages because it does not have water yet, but the members have contacted the City of Austin and plan to get water installed, Lewis said.