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From left to right, two young women and a young man crouch down in between rows of a garden to plant green onion seedlings. The far left woman is wearing a black T-shirt, the middle woman is wearing an orange T-shirt and the man is wearing a long-sleeved navy T-shirt and a gray hat.
Employees at the OSU Student Farm plant potatoes and onions in February as the operation's second year kicked off. (Photo by Mitchell Alcala, OSU Agriculture)

OSU Student Farm doubles acreage to serve Oklahoma food banks

Monday, June 3, 2024

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

The Oklahoma State University Student Farm is in its second year of operation and has harvested over 7,000 pounds of cool-season crops in 2024.

The idea was sparked by First Cowboy Darren Shrum, husband of OSU President Kayse Shrum, and is facilitated by the OSU Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.

Department head Justin Quetone Moss leads the project and secured a partnership with Rachael Condley, director of Stillwater’s Our Daily Bread Food and Resource Center, to deliver fruits and vegetables to the food center and serve Payne County residents. Fresh produce is also supplied to Pete’s Pantry, the food bank located on campus.

Co-managers Matt Beartrack and Lynda Carrier work alongside a small group of OSU Extension assistants and student employees to harvest a variety of cool- and warm-season crops. Located on the west side of campus on Highway 51 in Stillwater, the site’s initial 2 1/2 acres produced more than 54,000 pounds of food for residents in 2023. This spring, the team doubled its planted acreage with seasonal favorites featuring cabbage, Swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, sweet corn, spinach, potatoes and onions. New additions this year include sweet potatoes and Irish potatoes.

The OSU Student Farm is a hands-on living classroom for employees and volunteers involved in all aspects of vegetable production from planting, irrigating and fence building to weeding and harvesting. Beartrack said the team has improved the logistics of its daily deliveries to Our Daily Bread Food and Resource Center in Stillwater.

“This year, we’re more streamlined and communicating better about how much space we have for cold storage and what can be delivered,” he said.

The farm appreciates the generosity of P&K Equipment for donating the lease of two John Deere tractors. Great Plains Kubota also has provided the use of a Kubota tractor.

Installation of a post-harvest wash station is expected by August to prepare fruits and vegetables for distribution to food banks in Oklahoma’s metropolitan areas. This new feature is made possible through a partnership with the OSU Innovation Foundation and support from OSU’s Human Performance and Nutrition Research Institute.

As the original site of the OSU Swine Research and Education Center, the land, swine barn and caretaker’s house sat vacant for over a decade before OSU began transforming the space. The house now serves as the farm’s headquarters and has undergone minor renovations, such as painting, cleaning and repairs on the home’s water and central heat and air systems.

Beartrack said additional expansion with an organic focus is planned for later this fall; an OSU doctorate student will oversee the production of an acre of certified natural-grown produce.

“We’re about to plant summer crops on it and finish the fence,” he said. “The irrigation is in, the pipe poles are set and we’ll be ready to grow strawberries on it this fall.”

Even the most experienced gardeners face challenges with growing vegetables, and the Student Farm is no exception. Despite the team’s attempt to rotate the planting location of its cool and warm season crops, squash bugs and other common insects keep the gardening crew on alert. Although some of the produce is smaller this year compared to 2023, abundant rainfall has required less irrigation, and the farm’s crop is thriving.

“The quality of the produce — like our cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli — is awesome this year, and we’ve received a lot of positive feedback from the public on watching the season’s progress as they drive by the farm,” Carrier said.

Read about the mission of the OSU Student Farm in the winter 2023 issue of STATE magazine.

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