About Willow Lake Student Farm

What’s your farm motto or mission statement? 
The purpose of the student farm is to provide education and high quality produce to the Manhattan community with an emphasis in sustainable agriculture production.

Location of Willow Lake Student Farm

Manhattan, KS (11 miles from People's Grocery Cooperative)

Are you open to hosting visits or tours?

How long has your farm been in existence?
6 years. It started in 2008. 

Please share a brief synopsis of the history of your farm.
The farm was created by Dr. Janke and Lani Meyer (who was a graduate student at the time). It was created as a graduate research project to study the process of creating and maintaining a student farm for a university. From the beginning, the goal was to have one farm manager and several student interns. Those students would be individuals who wanted to have an experience working on a sustainable farm that focuses on using organic practices. Grants fund these positions. The focus remains on fruit and vegetable production.  

Produce at Willow Lake Student Farm

What crops and products do you produce? In what season do they grow?

  • Tomatoes - July-September, maybe October 

  • Potatoes- June  (sweet pots harvested in September or October) 

  • Peppers- July- October 

  • Onions- June & July 

  • Summer Squash – July-October

  • Okra- July-September or October (first frost) 

  • Garlic- June -July

  • Peas-  May-June (some July)

  • Snap Peas- May-June (some July)

  • Aronia Berries- July-September 

  • Raspberries- June

  • Black Berries- July 

  • Spinach- harvested throughout late April-May

  • Lettuce- May-early June  

  • Kale- Spring (March-May) and Fall (September-October) 

Which, if any, organic certification does your farm have? If none, do you use organic or conventional practices?
Organic Practices 

Which sprays do you use on which crops, and how often do you use them?
Only BT (organic BT pesticide), and only occasionally 

What are your tillage practices? (how many times a year, what kind)
Once a year for each bed/row. We use a minimal tillage practice with cover crop rotation.

Tell us a little about your crop rotation. Do you use cover crops?
Each crop is rotated at least years apart from each plot. So the same plant is not in the same plot for at least two years. We use harry vetch as a cover crop and also have used sun hemp. 

What is your fertilizer source and type?
Compost from the north agronomy farm and work castings.

What are your soil conservation practices (mulching, erosion control, etc.)?
Green mulching and mulching and cover crops

What would you like People’s Grocery Co-Op shoppers to know about your products? What sets you apart?
All of our products are grown from a student-run farm and we grow a large variety of crops. We are open to trying new things and are committed to community education. 

What vision do you have for the future of your farm and/or the future of food? 
We would like to have a full-time farm manager and have the farm become self-sustainable by growing and selling our own produce. We would like to continue to diversify and provide that produce to the community. We are invested in having a place for students and community members participate in sustainable agriculture.