Urban farm continues efforts over summer

By: Meredith Francis

The Xavier University Rec Center Butterfly Urban Farm continued its efforts over the summer to get the farm up and running as a multi-purpose farm space for Xavier’s campus.

The urban farm, which began construction in February 2013, is located between the Commons Apartments and what is currently the University Station development.

During Community Action Day last spring, 26 student volunteers built raised plant beds using recycled wood and kits that Xavier Physical Plant carpenters constructed for the students. Then, last April, Physical Plant craftsmen constructed the hoop house, which acts as a kind of greenhouse.

Over the summer, the Sustainability Club met with local sustainability non-profit organizations including Urban Greens and OMID USA to discuss crops, water and solar panels that will fuel the drip irrigation system.

Xavier purchased 40 yards of compost in August from Compost Cincy, the only urban commercial composting facility in the United States. Compost Cincy is one of three composters that processes Hoff Dining Commons food scraps. Xavier is also using “earth tubs,” located near the NEXUS gardens behind McGrath Health and Wellness Center, to make more compost for the farm from campus food scraps.

“What I mostly appreciate is the cycle of life and the process of building together,” Ann Dougherty, Xavier’s sustainability director, said. “The compost we bought from Compost Cincy came in part from our food waste from the (Hoff Dining Commons) last year. We used recycled wood for the raised bed boxes and bought a hoop house kit that can be taken down and moved when we need to.”

Dougherty also added that the farm hopefully will serve as a permanent social and recreational space on campus as well. Eventually, a recreation center will be built on the 2.4 acres of allotted space for the farm. Some biology and agriculture classes will also utilize the space.

The hoop house soil is currently being prepared for planting. A part-time farmer and student volunteers will soon determine what will be planted on the urban farm. The Sustainability Club is planning on using the crops grown on the urban farm for a harvest dinner in November.

While the part-time farmer will tend to the farm, the farm will also rely on volunteers. Those interested can contact the Office of Sustainability. There will be tours available of the farm and other sustainability efforts on Xavier’s campus. For more information, visit http://www.xavier.edu/green and click on the Urban Farm tab.