Locally Grown: The Miami Institute for Food Farm

Nearly 26% of the food Miami University dining services purchases comes from vendors located throughout southwest Ohio and the neighboring regions. However, one of Miami’s newest local partnerships is particularly close to home.

Located on the historic Austin-Magie Farm, near the intersection of Morning Sun and Somerville Roads in Oxford, the Miami University Institute for Food farm is only a five-minute drive from the center of campus. The Institute for Food is a unique local supplier, not only because of its proximity, but because it’s so much more than a farm.

“The farm is a part of the larger context of what the Institute for Food is about,” said farm manager Lauren Wulker. “The Institute for Food is an interdisciplinary education endeavor connecting students, faculty, and the Oxford community to issues of food, health, and sustainable agriculture.”

The farm is one component of the Institute for Food’s greater mission to engage diverse communities around issues of food, health and sustainable agriculture. The farm offers an interactive learning space for students and faculty from different disciplines to apply classroom learning to a real-world experience. For example, one of the only structures on the farm currently is a shipping container, fashioned into a “part-office” “part-toolshed” by an architecture design and build class at Miami. Other classes participating in the on-farm learning experience this semester include Engineers without Borders, web design, journalism, and a service-learning course.  

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The farm is still relatively new, but has come a long way since breaking ground in January, with two shipping containers, a drip-water irrigation system and eight acres of both produce and cover crop. The first harvest took place in June, which marked the beginning of their partnership with dining services. Since then, the Institute for Food farm has continued to offer items like their dark-colored cherry tomatoes, fresh sage and an array of squash to the dining halls.

While partnering with the Institute for Food ushers in additional, fresh and locally grown produce for patrons of Miami’s dining services, the partnership serves a greater purpose for the farm.

“We’re growing vegetables in an effort to affect change within the food system regionally and around the country,” said Wulker. “We’re trying to breakdown some of the barriers that prevent smaller scaled operations from partnering with institutions.”

The partnership between the Institute for Food and Miami’s dining services is expected to grow as the farm does, leading to more farm fresh, local products on menus from just down the road. In the meantime, Wulker is excited at what the farm has already accomplished.

“It’s arriving. We are making it arrive. You know what I mean?” said Wulker, “And that’s important.”

Keep an eye out for signs, indicating Institute for Food products available on campus, and buy their products at Market Street at MacCracken or the Moon Co-op. They have also sold to Quarter Barrel and a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in Cincinnati called Urban Greens.

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