From seed to market, Organic Growers Club members learn to do it all.
An Earth-friendly approach to farming has quietly been taking place for the past five years at OSU. Members of the Organic Growers Club use alternative weed and pest controls, including beneficial insects, to produce a wide range of crops.
James Cassidy was one of the first members of the club when he joined as a soil science student in 2001. Now, a soil science instructor and research assistant, he is marketing director for the club.
“The emphasis of the club is on the food, not the politics of organic versus inorganic or any other political issues,” Cassidy says. “We choose not to use chemicals because our customers prefer that. We have nothing against people who use chemicals, but it’s not for us.”
Cassidy says the club offers something for everyone. Members include staff, faculty, and students from various majors. Many participants find something to do in their field because club activities involve agriculture, social sciences, marketing, and other areas. Engineering students helped create the drip irrigation system, for example.
“We bought the system with our earnings. That’s the way we get equipment,” Cassidy says. “I think of it in terms of how many onions it is to buy something. I know how much work goes into onions, and if they sell at three for a dollar, it’s easy to determine how many onions something costs, so we know if it’s worth it.”
At their 3.5-acre farm just east of Corvallis off Highway 34, club members produce more than 50 different crops, including tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, garlic, potatoes, corn, beets, broccoli, beans, and, of course, onions.
The club distributes its goods through a list of about 300 on-campus customers. “I send out a message every Monday during the season to tell people what’s available that week and how much it costs. They order by Thursday, then we harvest that night and deliver the items on Friday.”