New site will include community center and greenhouse
By MATTHEW WEAVER
PULLMAN, Wash. -- When Washington State University's organic farm moves to its new location in the next two to three years, it will grow from 3 acres to 17 acres and include greenhouses and a community center, among other new facilties.
The first field at the new site will be prepared this fall for vegetable production with a cover crop, said farm manager Brad Jaeckel. "In one field we should be able to match what we have (at the entire original site)."
Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, associate professor of sustainable and organic agriculture for the university, said the farm will be called the Eggert Family Organic Farm, following a $5 million donation from Chuck and Louanna Eggert, the founders of Pacific Natural Foods, which makes natural and organic soups and specialty drinks near Portland, Ore.
"The Eggert gift was kind of a game changer, because it made it a reality for us to get moving," said Melissa Bean, of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences Foundation. The total cost of the project will be about $15 million.
The design includes a community center, aquaponic greenhouse, production and research plots for tree fruit and perennials, a residence for students, wind energy integration, organic sheep and poultry, sensor technology and a children's experiential garden.
"The goal on the site is to be resource-neutral, so we have to choose wisely with livestock and crop choices," Jaeckel said. "We would try to provide the animals with all their feed and water needs from the site."
The new location has not been used for production for the last two years, Jaeckel said, except for beef cattle grazing and a four-year bee research project.
Jaeckel said the goal during the transition is to maintain production for the community-supported agriculture program, which may mean running two farms simultaneously.
There's a possibility the original farm may remain a research site, he said.
With development of an irrigation system, the organic farm can begin developing its orchard and windbreaks. The first greenhouse could be built this winter.
"That would be wonderful because we've never had our own greenhouse space," Jaeckel said. "We've always been moved from room to room on campus. To have our greenhouse would be fantastic."
The old farm is at WSU's Tukey Horticultural Orchard on Airport Road. The new farm is north of WSU's grizzly bear facility at the corner of Airport Road and Animal Science Road.