For more than 40 years the Outback Farm has been a student-run hub of hands-on agricultural education at WWU.
This year the Outback established a new community partnership with the Bellingham Food Bank. With seeds and crop guidance from the food bank, the Outback created a dedicated production effort. Every Wednesday morning, students meet to harvest vegetables and send the week's bounty to the food bank for distribution to the local community.
This effort provides unique opportunities for students to learn about organic agriculture, gain work experience in a sustainable food production model, and work for a cause that benefits the Bellingham community.
The Outback Farm is itself a partnership between the Associated Students and Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies. The A.S. provides resources for student employees who help coordinate agricultural production, organize educational events, and connect the farm to the campus community. Fairhaven College provides faculty advisement, resources to run the farm, and numerous academic connections.
Roby Ventres-Pake, the A.S. Outback program coordinator, led the effort to establish the partnership with the Bellingham Food Bank. He describes it as a way to focus the energy of the work-study and volunteer crews on the farm, provide more applicable educational opportunities for WWU students, increase visibility of the A.S. and the Outback across campus, and supply wholesome food to those in need. So far the Outback Farm has donated over 600 pounds of fresh produce to the Bellingham Food Bank, and students are hoping to meet a goal of 1,000 pounds by the end of the growing season.
For more information on the Outback Farm and the production effort for the Bellingham Food Bank, contact Roby Ventres-Pake at AS.Outback@wwu.edu