The Green Commune: why SMC needs a communal farm

I believe holding a communal farm on campus would be a great idea not only for our school, our community, but also you, my fellow students. As a current student, I believe that there are several reasons as to why you should support the communal farm on campus: It would provide a source of income for the students, including international students, as an employment opportunity, it could supplement the cafeteria, it could be sold to the community, and it is a self-sufficient, and sustainable way to produce and consume healthy food. Firstly, having a communal farm could serve as an employment opportunity for students. International students can be employed on the farm, which would be a huge benefit for international students since they have a considerably higher tuition, and on top of that, are not allowed to work in the United States. There are eager students, whether national or international, that are often on campus waiting for their next class, or waiting for office hours, or waiting to get picked up: all the while they could be working on the farm, reducing their tuition costs, or earning community service hours. Rather than going back and forth to a job, you could work on campus, thus creating a reduction in transportation, which would be easier on your schedule, and on the environment.

Our quality of air on campus would be improved, as the plants will absorb Carbon Dioxide and emit Oxygen. Hence, we will breathe a higher oxygenated, higher quality air, enabling more oxygen to our brains, improving our academic performance. Eating healthier non-GMO produced foods that are organically grown without chemicals will also raise your health, thus your academic performance too.

Growing food on campus would reduce the amount of food that we have to import and export to SMC, which takes a lot of resources like water, fuel, and electricity, all of which are scarce, especially in a drought. Speaking of a drought, one would ask, how do we have the water for such a project during a drought? It takes much more water to transport food in massive, gas-guzzling, dirty trucks than it takes to water these plants here on campus. So, having a communal farm would actually save water, especially in the long run.

The academic opportunity in having a communal farm is another component I think should be evaluated: Say you have an Environmental Science major, or you are taking a Botany class, or you are studying the function of photosynthesis in plants in your Biology Lab class; the farm could be a fundamental site to learn in all of these situations. The Sustainable Works Program could be supplemented with the opportunity for students to learn how they could grow their own food at home instead of just reading or talking about it. There could arise more of an academic variety from having a communal farm.

Not only would working on the farm be an experience where you learn working skills and cooperation skills with other students, but, it can also become a variety of experiences for many: Some will connect with nature while working, and find the farm to be a temporary escape from the stressful environment in the city and in your classes; others would see it as an opportunity to learn new skills with farming, taking home ‘tricks-of-the-trade’ and putting it to work in their own house, or, you could simply come in and work the farm if you need community service hours.

Once the food is made, it will not just go to our cafeteria, but it would also be sold through Farmer’s Markets to the public every weekend. The revenue made would be put into improving classrooms, bathrooms, or whatever else it may that the students need.

What has stopped SMC from having this idea put into motion? Why is it that people in the community will use the SMC track to work out, people will use the SMC library to study, but people do not have the option to buy organically grown food from SMC? Is it the money? It will take money to get this started, but, once started, the communal farm will be an on-going procedure. We have a compost-bin on campus as it is: imagine we put the waste from the organically grown crops off of the plates of students in the cafeteria into the compost bin, which creates fertilizer for the new crops to grow, thus the cycle keeps repeating itself. We have the resources, we have the (wo)man-power, the motivation, the ideology, and we certainly have the money to get it started. Is it the space? Ideally, I would suggest growing it on a plot of unused land close to the college, but, if that couldn’t work, we could grow on roof of classrooms, which in turn would cool off the classrooms, saving energy by reducing the need for air-conditioners.

Going forward, what would happen if other college campuses took our lead? Accumulatively, students around the country could make a difference in their pockets, the school’s budgets (maybe more money for scholarships…), the community’s air quality, and the community’s food source.