October 15, 2021 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Cecilia Timberg | Photo courtesy of Colorado College
Overgrown and forgotten, a gated plot of land sits on the corner of campus where the Tiger Trail meets Uintah. The only clue to what it used to be a wooden painted sign reading “Colorado College Student Garden.”
Arriving in the fall of 2019, Kai Matthiasson ’23, saw the potential to grow food and community in the abandoned plot.
“Part of the reason I wanted to come to CC was because it had a farm,” Matthiasson said. But when he arrived on campus his first year of college, he was disappointed to find the farm untended and overgrown.
Matthiasson discovered that between 2007 and 2018, the farm was under the control of the Collaborative for Community Engagement, which used the space to grow local food to sell to Rastall Dining Hall and at local farmers markets. This practice ended in 2018, and since then the farm has mostly been deserted.
“As a freshman, I feel like I was definitely missing something in terms of [the] community aspect of going somewhere and helping on a farm … because growing up, that’s just a part of the everyday routine,” Matthiasson said.
So, that fall, he helped start the initiative to reclaim the CC Farm and found many other students on campus who had similar goals. They decided to work together and applied to start the CC Student Farm Club.
A slow club approval process combined with most of the students being sent home for COVID-19 that spring meant that the club was not approved until nearly two years later during the fall of 2021.
With most of the others involved in the initiative having graduated, Matthiasson found himself in a facilitator role.
“A lot of the freshmen that are starting this year are trying to find community in the beginning of their college experience and I want this place to be that for them, because it wasn’t for me,” Matthiasson said.
The CC Student Farm has become a creative space this fall for students to experiment with multiple different farming methods.
“There’s a couple of different schools of thought in terms of what’s the best way to farm obviously, a lot of different traditions from a lot of different places,” Matthiasson said.
The club, guided by curiosity, decided to use two methods, till and no-till farming. They were interested to see how the different methods yield different results.
Both schools of thought are prevalent in the farming community. Till farming is a more traditionally European farming technique that involves aerating the soil so that seeds can more easily take root. However, yearly tilling of the soil releases sequestered carbon into the atmosphere.
No-till farming is an alternative strategy that leaves the soil undisturbed and instead uses more robust seeds that can take root in less aerated soil. This method decreases soil erosion but also limits the crops that can be planted.
Full of dreams for the CC Student Farm, the club members are hoping to spend the winter working through logistics so that they are ready for the spring season. Matthiasson said they are asking questions like: “What are we planting? When are we planting it? How can we get the seeds started? How can we get money? How can we get the word out? Like we’re doing this!”
They also have many long-term goals to grow the CC Farm Club.
“We’re planning on building a greenhouse next year so we can grow things during the winter. We’re hoping to work with the Native American Student Union. We’re planning on hopefully having more events there. And just using the space for the community aspect,” Matthiasson said. “Hopefully by the time it’s fall next year we’ll have a bountiful harvest for all of the students and then we’re just gonna have anybody who wants to come by in a farmer’s market style.”
More than anything, though, Matthiasson is excited to see others fall in love with the space like he has. He is hoping that people will come to him with ideas about how to utilize the space and enhance the farming community.
“It’s not my farm. It’s a student farm. Contact me, let me know what you want out of it. And we can make it happen,” he said.
If you are interested in joining the CC Student Farm or have ideas, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. The club also has meetings every Thursday at 4 p.m. at the farm and anyone is welcome to stop by!