While locally sourced foods are not new to Auburn University campus eateries, the options are soon to grow thanks to two new container farms to be installed on campus. The two 320-square-foot converted shipping containers will use hydroponic technology to produce fresh produce year-round.
“Food can be picked on the farm and served from our kitchens the same day, which is unheard of,” said campus dining director Glenn Lougheridge, who has worked with the College of Agriculture to obtain the two hydroponic units.
He said the objective was not only to serve more locally sourced foods but also to provide new student learning experiences. The vertical farms will be managed and maintained by university students training to work in the growing high-tech field of urban farming.
“A student who may not be interested in agriculture in the traditional sense may be fascinated by the idea of an urban farm. We can give them hands-on experience in that type of setting,” said Desmond Layne, head of Auburn’s Department of Horticulture.
The College of Agriculture raised more than $10,000 toward these student employment and training opportunities through Auburn’s Tiger Giving Day in February.
The new container farms are only the most recent way in which the College of Agriculture and Campus Dining have partnered. The two have worked together for several years through an aquaponics farm facility near campus, which produces both fish and produce for campus eateries.
The container farms will be a part of the College of Agriculture’s new Transformation Garden, a 16-acre research and teaching garden to be built on the south end of the university campus. Campus Dining is also providing an industrial composting machine, which will be a part of the garden’s operations.