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Growing Food Security Project supports student food needs

Photo courtesy of Kate Sherman

Colorado State University’s roots as an agricultural and land-grant school manifest in many ways. Be it CSU’s agricultural science programs, their history as a land-grant university or research on campus, agriculture is a central aspect of the community. CSU also owns plenty of farmland. The Agricultural Research, Development and Education Center’s Growing Food Security project is an effort to teach and service Fort Collins and the issues of food insecurity faced by many.

Following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project began as a small plot of land dedicated to crops with the purpose of donating to Rams Against Hunger. While an acre of land is reserved for the project, the project is growing slowly and currently occupies only one-third of the land allotted.


The project is also designed for students to learn a variety of skills that, when effectively executed, result in a successful and healthy garden and farmland. Volunteers can learn skills in an assortment of farming knowledge areas, including soil health, farm equipment, urban agriculture and more.

The project came from the offer of an acre of land on CSU’s ARDEC South, a horticulture research facility. They started with just a few different crops but now grow over 20 different varieties, including beets, corn, squash, tomatoes and more. The crops provide an assortment of educational opportunities regarding how different plants grow and how successful they are in Colorado.

Project lead James Larson said the project is a large community effort. From students volunteering their free time to ARDEC staff assisting them in running irrigation, there are many individuals involved in the process. Help is also received by people operating farm equipment.

“This is sort of the epitome of the slogan ‘Rams helping Rams,’” Larson said.

In 2022, they grew more than 11,400 pounds of produce, all donated to an assortment of food banks. Not only does the project service CSU’s Rams Against Hunger Pantry, but it also works with the Food Bank for Larimer County and the mobile food pantry that occasionally pops up on campus. The project provides all produce, and the Food Bank for Larimer County provides other goods.

Groups and clubs are also known to help volunteer with the project by bringing members to handpick produce or help with other tasks. Volunteers benefit by getting to take produce home with them, providing a fresh, locally sourced alternative to the grocery store. The Agronomy Club has visited many times to help their members follow their passions of agriculture even if they are not in an agriculture-related major.

“I saw they needed a lot of help, and I had a lot of kids in my club that are really passionate about agriculture,” said Lucas Lenoch, Agronomy Club president.

The Growing Food Security project would not be possible without its volunteers, and they are always looking for extra hands. If you are looking to help, you can fill out an interest form. Food insecurity affects many students on campus, and the stigma surrounding utilizing food pantries is one that can cause students to go hungry. 

Resources and projects like Rams Against Hunger and the Growing Food Security project are here to ensure students can pursue an education without the fear of going hungry.


Reach Adam Carlson at or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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