Sustainability down on the farm

Name: Bob Easter
Major: Environmental plant studies
Year: Senior
Hometown: West Lafayette, Indiana

Circle of life: As inaugural president of Full Circle Agriculture, Bob has the task of operating a fully-functional student farm. A joint venture between the College of Agriculture and the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Bob and his peers have successfully developed an operational vegetable farm and are learning about developing farm budgets, crop rotations, managing plots for fertility and pests, and how to market their products. “We just started the farm less than a year ago, and are already making plans to expand by planting a fruit orchard.”

From farm to fork: In addition to selling produce to the public Friday afternoons, Full Circle Agriculture also sells to the HTM Café, the learning laboratory for hospitality and tourism management students located in Stone Hall.

Clearing the way: Sustainability is key at the farm. After the trees and shrubs were cleared from the area, they were ground down and made into a compost pile. Other things are going to be added to it, like food waste, but the idea is to use an all-natural fertilizer and avoid any chemicals in this area. “We minimize our outside resources as much as possible and utilize certified organic fertility when we need it.”

Farming for the future: The student farm has provided Bob and Full Circle Agriculture opportunities for undergraduate research projects in sustainable agriculture, organic production and local food issues. As the farm develops, Bob anticipates opportunities to work with local K-12 schools to provide education to students on food production and sustainability.

Philosophical farmer: Bob enjoys reading philosophy to broaden his perspective on the world. One of his favorite quotes comes from farmer and writer Wendell Berry: "One of the most important resources that a garden makes available for use is the gardener's own body. A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support. It is a way of rejoining the human race."

By Emily Blue