The mission of the Clemson University Student Organic Farm is to provide an experiential learning environment demonstrating ecologically, economically, and socially sustainable farming strategies which strengthen local food systems.
To enhance the Sustainable Agriculture Program, the Student Organic Farm (SOF), a fully operational 6-acre demonstration farm located on the Clemson University campus, was established in 2001 as a project under the Sustainable Agriculture Program and serves as a resource for training and education in sustainable and organic agriculture. The farm was certified organic in 2005 and follows the National Organic Program rules which prohibit the application of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and also has achieved USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) certification governing food safety in the production and handling of produce.
In addition to serving as an experimental research farm, hosting training and other events, the farm produces a wide variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program which is available to Clemson faculty, staff, and students, and the outside community. Today the Clemson Organic Farm is used an official university resource for ongoing organic research under the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.
The Student Organic Farm is managed onsite by a full time farm manager who reports to the chair of the Student Organic Farm Advisory Committee; made up of faculty, research associates, and extension personnel. The SOF Advisory Committee is tasked with finding ways to incorporate research projects and new opportunities into the farm project while keeping the program relevant and competitive.
The SOF relies heavily on student involvement in all aspects of farm management, production and marketing. It offers research opportunities for graduate students, and also provides undergraduate students of any discipline with hands-on experience in organic and sustainable production systems, with opportunities for Creative Inquiry research projects.
Permaculture Design Concepts
Farm staff use permaculture design principles to create harmonious integration of farm components. Natural processes are utilized to conserve energy and resources while maximizing productivity. The farm is operated as a model working farm to evaluate and demonstrate innovative sustainable farming techniques that are appropriate for small-scale, diversified organic horticultural crop production.
Along with a focus on environmental and social sustainability, farms must be profitable in order to be sustainable. All revenue generated by the sale of farm products goes directly toward salaries of farm staff, student workers, and farm operating expenses. Currently the farm relies on extramural grant support to supplement market revenues, and various business models are being evaluated in order to achieve long-term financial sustainability. If you would like to make a donation to help support the farm, please contact Kelly Flynn.