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a female student in blue jeans, a blue T-shirt and a yellow hat wearing gloves harvests cool-season crops at the OSU Student Farm
Students at the OSU Student Farm are involved in every phase of establishing and operating the university’s commercial garden, which provides hands-on experience in vegetable production. (Photo by Mitchell Alcala, OSU Agriculture)

OSU’s Giving Tuesday efforts to focus on OSU Student Farm

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Media Contact: Gail Ellis | Editorial Communications Coordinator | 405-744-9152 |

The Oklahoma State University Student Farm grew more than 54,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables in 2023 for Oklahomans facing food insecurity.

The farm’s dedicated effort to address local hunger issues is the primary focus of the OSU Foundation’s Giving Tuesday campaign, which falls on Nov. 28 this year. The project’s multi-disciplinary approach to real-world education embodies the university’s land-grant mission of teaching, research and Extension.

“The OSU Student Farm has received an overwhelming response from students eager to learn in an outdoor environment where crop research and community engagement are the foundation of a sustainable food production operation,” said OSU President Kayse Shrum. “The university’s efforts to leverage its historic strength in agriculture while teaching students and serving residents benefits everyone involved.”

In its first year of operation on three acres, two managers and a small team of OSU student workers and volunteers planted and harvested cool-season crops and common summer varieties such as cucumbers, broccoli, lettuces, zucchini, yellow squash, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, green beans, okra, sweet corn, cabbage, kohlrabi, cauliflower, spinach, onions and pumpkins.

Most of the Student Farm produce was donated to Our Daily Bread Food and Resource Center in Stillwater, which serves Payne County residents. Fresh vegetables were also provided to Pete’s Pantry for students to access on OSU’s campus.

The Student Farm integrates all areas of OSU’s land-grant mission, offering valuable teaching opportunities and research projects while embracing the Extension mission, which is deeply rooted in service.

“The OSU Student Farm gives us this wonderful opportunity to give our students hands-on experience in a real-world production environment,” said Justin Quetone Moss, head of the OSU Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. “In addition, they are getting involved in the community as they harvest the vegetables daily and directly deliver them to Our Daily Bread.”

Student employees were involved in every phase of establishing and operating the commercial garden; students prepared the soil for planting, installed an irrigation system and built an 8-foot deer fence. They harvested ripe produce, removed weeds from rows of plants and drove deliveries to Our Daily Bread.

“Growing produce encompasses many learning opportunities that are related to agriculture, nutrition, soil health, irrigation and the agribusiness sector,” said Jayson Lusk, vice president and dean of OSU Agriculture. “This unique experience will benefit students far beyond the classroom.”

Through hands-on trial-and-error gardening, the crew determined its planting strategy for 2024, which will include new items like asparagus and potatoes. The combined experience of co-managers Lynda Carrier and Matt Beartrack includes 20 years of research on vegetable variety trials. Their mentorship inspires the student workers with big dreams of tackling food insecurity, conserving natural resources and promoting health through physical activity, healthy food and ecological sustainability.

“It’s great to hear about the impact of the farm,” said public horticulture senior Samantha Pratt. “Being able to put forth my effort toward something that means a lot to people brings me joy.”

Located west of campus on Highway 51, the Student Farm is the former home of OSU’s Swine Research and Education Center. The team is expanding the site with an additional three acres for planting next spring.

Elizabeth Pollard, executive director of the Innovation Foundation at OSU, said she welcomes collaboration between the Student Farm and foundation projects.

"The immersive experience of OSU's Student Farm helps cultivate experiential learning, addresses food insecurity and embodies a fusion of education and outreach, which are tenants of a land-grant university,” Pollard said.

The Student Farm is rooted in an idea proposed by Darren Shrum, First Cowboy and husband of OSU President Kayse Shrum.

“The plans for this project reach more than just agriculture,” Darren Shrum said. “All colleges can be involved, from engineering to human sciences, and it ties into the university’s focus on the One Health initiative that promotes a healthy lifestyle.”

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