A Youngstown State University student group managing a community-supported agriculture project is looking to expand its programs on campus this year. Farm to YSU is a student organization — working with the non-profit organization Grow Youngstown — on campus that focuses on presenting staff and students alike the opportunity to purchase local, mostly organic food.
Sam Anderson, founder and president of Farm to YSU, hopes the organization’s new direction will serve as a bridge between the student body and agricultural endeavors.
“This is a student-wide, campus-based community that involves the YSU community getting involved with the outside agricultural community. It started as the Grow Youngstown Student Organization in the spring, but recently we made some aesthetic changes to make the name Farm to YSU,” Anderson said. “We also cut down some of the activities from last year, so that now our main focus is on the Farm to YSU program which brings fresh local produce to students on campus, and presents volunteer opportunities for students with community gardens.”
The organization’s volunteer opportunities range from service opportunities in local community gardens by weeding, planting and harvesting to cleaning and beautification projects for current and future gardens. There are also volunteer opportunities available to anyone interested in raising awareness for the program through flier campaigns.
Libby Rogenski, a sophomore double-majoring in mechanical engineering and physics, hopes to see the Farm to YSU program partner with existing YSU programs to help raise awareness for the organization as well as provide practical food preparation education.
“Actually this past summer there were classes offered called Crash Course to Cooking that taught people how to make meals out of foods that are locally grown. This was open to the public, through Grow Youngstown, so once we get the YSU support base we can hopefully utilize this as an aspect of the Farm to YSU program,” Rogenski said.
Anderson said the group is focused on short-term and long-term goals.
“Our short-term goal is to see this program grow to where I can start it next semester and know or predict that 30 people are going to sign up for these shares. The long-term goal is to make this an essential and an attractive part of the YSU community. I want it to be a nice resource for students,” Anderson said.
Anderson said anyone is welcome in the organization.
“You don’t have to be extremely health conscious to be a part of this program,” she said. “It’s just a cool way to stimulate business in the local community.”
Currently, produce shares are being offered to staff, faculty and students. The staff share period is 14 weeks and began on Aug. 26. The student shares cover 10 weeks and begins Sept. 23, which is also the last day to sign up for a share.
The student shares are catered to the needs of busy students, giving them easily prepared foods for quick, healthy meals.
“The main difference between these shares is that the student shares are customized to fit within the needs of the student. So everything is easy — you don’t have to cook it or do much for preparation but throw it in a bowl and eat it,” Anderson said. “An example of a share would be a dozen eggs, a head of lettuce, a pint of cherry tomatoes and a pint of blueberries.”
These shares are delivered on a weekly basis to various locations at YSU where shareholders can pick up their food.
Rogenski said that she feels Farm to YSU positively impacts students who want to eat healthy and locally.
“I think it is a great idea for students who are looking to eat more locally grown foods, organically grown foods, but they don’t want to drive to a whole foods store or pay the expensive prices of whole foods. This kind of cuts out the middleman,” Rogenski said. “I think it would be great if we could get a whole community in YSU to purchase shares and be more aware of what they are eating, and be interested in helping out our local agriculture business.”
Anyone in the area or on campus that is looking to get involved with the organization is welcome to attend a local farmer’s dinner Thursday, Sept. 11 at 4 p.m. in Christman Dining Hall. The dinner will feature a variety of local foods, bands and games.
The farmers who personally grow these foods will be available for questions about their produce.