The Edible Campus Program premiered the grand opening of its brand-new sustainable farm on Oct. 8, a project four years in the making dedicated to addressing food insecurity and educating students on sustainable living practices.

The farm is located on West Campus at the corner of El Colegio and Storke Road. Ida Kazerani / Daily Nexus

The program is a partnership between the Associated Students (A.S.) Department of Public Worms, the A.S. Food Bank and the UC Santa Barbara Sustainability Internship Program and trains students in practices that address the social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainability, according to Katie Maynard, advisor of the Edible Campus Program.

“One of the great things about a farm is it gives students an opportunity to have a hands-on connection with the natural environment and where their food comes from. Sometimes, the changes in a student’s life can be as simple as getting a better appreciation for the work that goes into creating their food,” Maynard said.

The opening of the farm, located on West Campus at the corner of El Colegio and Storke Road, featured a variety of booths to educate visitors on sustainability and composting, local wildlife in the area as well as providing activities for children, such as pot-painting. 

In addition, Jack Johnson, singer-songwriter and UCSB alumnus, performed at the opening, singing several of his most popular songs, including “Banana Pancakes,” as well as an original song about composting to fit the theme of the event. Johnson and his wife Kim are both major donors to the project and have visited the farm to help out and check on its progress several times in the past four years. 

Funding for the farm came from the UC Global Food Initiative, A.S. Coastal Fund, the Green Initiative Fund, the Food Security & Basic Needs Taskforce, the Healthy Campus Network and the Fund for Santa Barbara Youth Making Change Board, among others.

In a speech at the grand opening, Chancellor Henry T. Yang emphasized that the farm will contribute to other sustainable food practices already established at UCSB and in Isla Vista. 

“We are working to ensure that all students have access to healthy and sustainable foods ⁠— from growing food here on campus to campus food pantries [like] Associated Students Food Bank and Miramar Food Pantry to help[ing] students register for CalFresh,” Yang said. 

Maynard said that the farm will continue to grow in the future, with plans for a total of 37 raised planter beds, ranging from 16 to 20 feet high. 

The Edible Campus Program is also planning on working with other departments on campus for projects using the farm, according to Maynard.

“[We’re] working with Dr. Chandra Krintz from the computer science department. And we’re actually going to be putting a weather station …  and collecting data that through various meters throughout the farm that computer science students can use to then make recommendations about how we may change our farming practices.”

A version of this article appeared on pg. 7 of the Oct. 10, 2019 print edition of the Daily Nexus.