Star Route Farms
Serving the Jesuit Mission — and Students
Star Route Farms (SRF) became a part of USF in 2017. A self-sustaining organic farm, SRF is comprised of 40 acres of organically farmed land and 60 acres of mixed-woodland habitat, including riparian forest and a year-round stream, Pine Gulch Creek. The farm, land, creek, and associated out-buildings provide USF faculty, staff, and students an incredible opportunity to escape the urban landscape and participate in innovative learning experiences through courses, research, retreats, and workshops.
Pope Francis, a Jesuit, has embraced sustainability in a way no previous pope has. His 2015 publication, Laudato Si’, or Care for Our Common Home, charges us to care for earth as a mother or sister who needs our assistance in recovering from the damage we have inflicted upon her. Star Route Farms is one of many ways USF is helping students to save the world from here.
What's Happening at the Farm?
- Classical Studies students did a comparative study of ancient and contemporary farming practices
- Retreat goers used the farm's produce to create culinary delights — the farm regularly hosts workshops, team-building seminars, writing retreats, and small symposia
- The Biology department's Pollination Biology class visited the farm to examine pollinator community diversity
- Nature outings and experiential learning at the farm are now a regular part of the Environmental Studies program
- Stream ecology and land ethics are among the many subjects studied on SRF grounds
- Departments and colleges across the university have utilized the space — including Athletics, University Ministry, Philosophy, and all levels of staff and administration
- Community Garden outreach has been extended by the addition of SRF to USF
Research at the Farm
Impact of Climate Change on Soil Microbes
With the current climate crisis, how do extreme changes in precipitation affect organic farm soil? The Zimmerman Lab is conducting a controlled microcosm experiment to study how moisture stress and cover crop integration affect soil microbes and their ability to cycle nutrients.
How does land use and soil composition impact carbon storage? Calla Schmidt aims to find out when creating a soil carbon storage inventory by analyzing carbon storage from SRF soil cores.