On a Saturday morning, people busy themselves with planting seeds, hoeing, plowing and harvesting crops on a plot of land on the outskirts of San Marcos.
The group is made up of students and volunteers working at the Student Sustainable Farm, a project under the guidance of Ken Mix, assistant professor in the department of agriculture.
Operation at the farm, located on Highway 21 next to the San Marcos Municipal Airport, began March 2012 with the help of a $40,000 grant from the Environmental Service Committee.
Mix has a group of 100 students, most of whom are assigned homework hours for their work, as well as volunteers who help at the farm. Artichoke, broccoli, cabbage, kale, carrots and sweet potatoes are some of the crops grown there, which are then sold at farmers markets in The Quad.
Mix said the Student Sustainable Farm arose because the agriculture department needed an opportunity to develop a teaching and research site to explore the concept of sustainability.
Adam Salcedo, a volunteer at the farm, is a Texas State alumnus who plans to return as a graduate student.
“We—and by we I mean all Americans and members of industrialized society—need to learn how to produce food locally,” Salcedo said. “The industrial system has destroyed our competence, and we don’t know how to grow food anymore.”
Salcedo said there are benefits to locally grown food. Most food travels about 1,600 miles if it is bought from a store like H-E-B. Food bought from a farmers market only travels a few miles and was most likely harvested a few hours before it was sold. Locally grown food is also nutritious.
Dag Osorio, agriculture education graduate student, helped start the farm as a senior and said the project was a major deciding factor in continuing his education at Texas State.
“I’m here to supervise some of the (agriculture) students who are doing parts of their assignments out here,” Osorio said. “(This) includes anything from seeding to working the plots to harvesting or just learning a little bit about agriculture.”
Osorio said one of the project goals is to develop a “cycle” so the farm can sell its goods on campus and continue to fund itself. This is being done through student experience, research and community service.
Katie Tritsch, resource and environmental studies senior, started volunteering at the Student Sustainable Farm as a part of her undergraduate thesis.
“I think that a sustainable farm is a really important goal to reach for most universities to try to be progressive and give a different perspective on where food comes from,” Tritsch said. “I think this is barely getting started and it has a lot of potential.”
As a geography student, Tritsch said projects like this tie together students from several different majors.
“In general, caring for the Earth and caring for the environment and how you’re treating it is the thread that pulls all of us together,” Tritsch said.