In 2003, an environmental philosophy class at U of I was assigned to research sustainability among agriculture across campus. They found that there was a lot of capacity, but not much was being done in terms of growing food. At the same time, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences soil scientist Jodi Johnson-Maynard had a group of students in class that wanted a club or project to participate in. Together, these two groups created an organic student farm and the student participants became known as the Soil Stewards.
The farm started on about three acres of transitional organic land located within the larger University of Idaho Parker Farm. In the beginning, the soil stewards operated a Community Supported Agriculture, sold seasonally at an on-campus farm stand, and sold produce directly to the university food service provider.
As of 2015, the U of I Soil Stewards Farm is located on a three-acre parcel on Farm Road near the U of I Sheep Center. We wanted to be closer to campus to engage more with the student body. The Soil Stewards Farm continues to be a mixed vegetable operation, however, currently about a quarter acre is in cultivation. Over the next couple years, we are planning to expand the operation to include perennial crops as well as increase the amount of land in cultivation.
Future projects include:
- The final stages of our hoop house construction. The hoop house will increase the length of the growing season, potentially allowing for a year-round operation at the farm.
- The addition of a weather station to increase hands-on skill building opportunities for students.
- Increase in water monitoring through the integration of agricultural technology.