After spending a semester working on organic farms in northern Vermont last year, Katherine Sims ’04 wanted other students to have similar opportunities.
“It was an experience I thought should be available to all students,” Sims said.
Sims and several other Yale students began the Yale Organic Farm Project, or YOFP, which hopes to create a Yale-affiliated organic farm in New Haven. Group members hope to use the farm as an educational resource for both Yale and New Haven. The farm would also provide produce for the Yale University Dining Services’ Sustainable Food Initiative, and compost the University’s food waste, stable manure, leaves and lawn clippings.
To get the project off the ground, YOFP members applied for funding through the newly established Yale Green Fund, which will provide $1 million over the next three years to finance environmental activities at Yale. Tuesday, YOFP organizers submitted a condensed version of their 18-page farm proposal, drafted by Sims, Lucas Dreier ’04, Laura Hess ’06 and Harvard graduate Joshua Viertel, who the University hired to set up a composting pilot.
Sims said an organic farm would be an improvement from Yale’s current waste practices. Sims said dining hall workers put food scraps into the water, which is illegal. For the practice, the University pays over $100,000 in fines, according to YOFP’s Green Fund proposal.
Without a compost project, the dining halls may purchase holding tanks to separate food from water and avoid the illegal waste procedures, Sims said.
But Sims said the emphasis would be more on the farm as an educational facility.
YOFP members have reviewed four separate sites, of which three satisfied the project’s needs. If the project is approved, YOFP said the Farm Advisory Board, which would oversee the project, would select the best of these sites — after sampling soils and comparing prospective lots — by the end of this semester.
YOFP is asking for Green Fund money to satisfy start-up costs. For running costs, Sims said members of the project plan to meet with Yale President Richard to discuss the project’s finances. According to the proposal, the project would cost slightly under $60,000 annually. The costs do not include yearly farm income, which could range from $20,000 to $70,000.
Sunday night, Yale College Council unanimously voted to support the project, after YCC representative Andrew Cedar ’06 brought the project to the YCC’s attention.
Cedar said the YCC will send members of the administration letters advocating the project.