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Research, Food Production, Regenerative Agriculture--A Visit To The IU Campus Farm

Erin Carman-Sweeny standing in blue shirt, with one hand on his hip in front of row crops with trees and green brush beyond the farm fields.

Erin Carmen-Sweeny, Farm Manager of IU Campus Farm stands in front of rows of peppers, green beans, and tomatoes on one of the open-air fields on the farm. (Kayte Young/WFIU)

“Winter-kill cover crop is the most beautiful thing because it’s gonna do all the work for you basically, and get you where you need to be.”

This week on our show we speak with the Indiana University Campus Farm Manager, Erin Carman-Sweeny about regenerative agriculture practices, and how they come in handy when you start a farm on land without any top soil.

Harvest Public Media has a story about goat farmers contracting with forest managers for removal of invasive plants.

And it’s pesto season! We’ll walk through the steps of harvesting your basil and turning it into a tasty pasta sauce to last you all winter long.

IU Campus Farm

With classes starting this week at Indiana University, I thought it might be good time to visit the IU Campus Farm, and talk with Farm Manager, Erin Carman-Sweeney.

Under the direction of Professor James Farmer, of the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, the campus farm is located on 10th street, West of the Bypass in Bloomington. They focus on fruit and vegetable production and distribute the harvest to students, through IU Dining Services, to the general public through farm stands and to those in need of food assistance through donations to Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, and this summer, to the IU emergency meal program we featured a few weeks ago.

Erin Carman-Sweeney grew up on an organic farm, but truly discovered his passion for sustainable food systems after he left home and began to learn about the problems with out industrial food systems. Erin has a degree in Geography and Environmental Resources and loads of experience in growing food and sharing farming skills with others. He’s been running the farm from the beginning and it’s a good fit.

With about five acres dedicated to crop production, the farm hosts 4 high tunnels, and several large open-air fields for specialty row crops. The farm is used for research including a living mulch study with Biology Professor Heather Reynolds, and indigo crops with Textile artist and IU Professor Rowland Rickles.

The back of Erin Carmen-Sweeny's head in forground, view of several agricultural high tunnels
Two of the four high tunnels are moveable. They're on tracks, and can be positioned over three different fields. (Kayte Young/WFIU)
Close-up of rail and wheel for moveable high tunnels, with grass growing around it.

A close-up shot of the wheel and the track that the high tunnel frame moves along when repostitioning over a new field. (Kayte Young/WFIU)

Erin gave me a tour of the farm at peak growing season. We talk about regenerative agricultural practices such as cover cropping, and he blows my mind with the moveable high tunnels (they're on tracks! No kidding!)

Music on this episode:

The Earth Eats theme music is composed by Erin Tobey and performed by Erin and Matt Tobey.

Additional music on this episode from Universal Production Music.

Stories On This Episode

Make Some Pesto-Freeze Some Pesto

Pesto on orzo pasta with chive blossom, spinach and baby kale garnish--in a white bowl.

Capture the last breath of summer in a couple of jars of pesto tucked away in your freezer. You'll be grateful to have it for a quick pasta dish on a cold December evening.

At This National Forest In Missouri, Goats Take Care Of The Invasive Plants

Several goats in a field with tall plants.

Forests across the country have a problem with invasive plants wreaking havoc by choking off native plants and destroying wildlife habitats. A National Forest in Missouri is experimenting with goats as a solution.

Cherry Harvest Hamstrung Amid Worker Shortfall

Close up of sweet read cherries and a hand reaching in to them.

Cherry farms are struggling to collect labor-intensive crops in a short harvest window, as many migrant workers stay home during the pandemic.

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