Hands-on Learning Opportunities at the Campus Farm Build Community

Rebecca Lerner
Release Date: 
Last Year's Dow Cohort



“The existence of the Campus Farm serves as a valuable learning platform for students of all levels of experience to learn about food and to cultivate a conversation surrounding our current food system,”

—Kate Samra, LS&A student


“The Campus Farm provides a unique opportunity to create a living-learning laboratory on campus that combines academics with operations and students living,” said Jeremy Moghtader, the new manager of the Campus Farm. “It touches all of those components in a way that can be impactful. I look forward to collaborating with folks -- student, faculty, and staff -- across campus.”

After working as a manager at the Michigan State University Organic Farm for ten years, Moghtader returned to his alma mater, the University of Michigan. He majored in economics at U-M as an undergraduate, later getting his graduate degree from the School of Natural Resources and Environment, with a focus in agroecology.

“I’m just super excited to be back here and working at U-M…[it’s] been just amazing. It’s nice to engage more holistically in the community where I live and work,” Moghtader said. “U-M has a broad sustainable living experience. There’s a critical mass of people who are devoted and interested in sustainability through a food systems lens, and that is compelling to me.”

Another passionate contributor to the efforts of the farm is Kate Samra, a sophomore in LSA studying Plant Biology and minoring in food systems. After volunteering at the Campus Farm her freshman year, Samra applied for an internship through Matthei Botanical Gardens and has been a Student Farm Manager ever since.

“I believe that now is an important time for young people to address the issues facing our generation and to become stewards of the planet,” Samra said, explaining her dedication to the farm. “To me, this involves recognizing the food crisis that lies before us, understanding its stakeholders, discussing ways to deal with the problem, and taking steps towards a more sustainable and equitable system.”

Samra described the way the Campus Farm brings together students with or without gardening and environmental experience. Her fondest memories include the weekly workdays where she meets new people and escapes the rapid pace of central campus.

“The existence of the Campus Farm serves as a valuable learning platform for students of all levels of experience to learn about food and to cultivate a conversation surrounding our current food system,” Samra said.

Both Samra and Mogtader agree that Farm fosters a cooperative effort among young people and raises awareness of food issues. It also has the potential to ensure that U-M students learn to be engaged citizens, and are more aware of the impact of food systems now and in the future.  

“At the end of the day, food and agriculture touch almost every part of the human experience,” said Moghtader. “...the Campus Farm provides a very hands-on way for students to explore what are some complex and extremely important issues about how we as a species gain our sustenance.”

Learn More:

About the Author: Rebecca Lerner is a Planet Blue Ambassador and assists with efforts to promote sustainability on campus. She is a U-M student studying English and Screen Arts and Culture and is working as a writer with the Graham Sustainability Institute.

Sustainability Series & Guide: This series is designed to demonstrate how local businesses and organizations highlighted in the University of Michigan (U-M) Sustainability Guide contribute to sustainability in the Ann Arbor area. Together, U-M and the broader community are working to fulfill campus sustainability goals in the areas of climate action, waste prevention, healthy environments, and community awareness.

Planet Blue: The U-M Sustainability Guide is part of the Planet Blue effort to fulfill these goals. Planet Blue is the University of Michigan’s unified commitment to sustainability education, research, operations, and community engagement. Planet Blue encompasses the astounding breadth of sustainability work by U-M students, faculty, and staff across the entire university.