tom sanders

Taking part in agriculture enterprise projects have led some students and faculty to believe the programs give more than just another heading on a resume.

The tasks equip students with many skills that can be potentially applied to any situation or career path, said Terry Hooker, Cal Poly Organic Farm manager. The project took in sales revenue ranging from $80,000 to $100,000 for the fiscal year 2005-06.

“They get to interact with the landscape and see how nature and people can work together,” Hooker said.

From watching and learning to putting concepts into action in the fields, working on an enterprise project farm gives students an understanding of what it is like to try to earn a living in production, said John Phillips, a horticulture and crop science professor.

“This insight serves them well regardless of where their careers take them after graduation from college,” he said.

Marked by sustainable agriculture practice and production of various crops of flowers, herbs, veggies and other produce, this enterprise project is a collaboration between the horticulture and crop science department and the Sustainable Agriculture Resource Consortium (CSA), according to a news release.

Bundles of these items are taken weekly from the project and other local growers and offered to members of the CSA subscription program, which served 180 memberships in 2005.

Organic Farm staff surveyed subscribers and found that they chose to participate for a variety of reasons, Phillips said. Subscribers said that they like the freshness, locality and the absence of synthetic pesticides in the food.

“Some subscribers also like the idea of supporting Cal Poly,” he said.

Another enterprise project that gives the local community campus-made choices is Cal Poly Eggs. It is the main income for poultry unit operations with sales totaling between $300,000 and $400,000 per year, said Ryan Holt, the poultry center manager.

The eggs are sold throughout San Luis Obispo County and can be found on the shelves of markets and restaurants such as Albertsons, Spencer’s Fresh Markets, JJ’s Markets, Apple Farm and Franks Hot Dogs, he said.

Aside from business gains however, students can follow the whole process “from chick, to layer, to egg, to carton, to store,” he said.

Specifically, students are responsible for caring for birds, gathering eggs daily, washing and grading eggs twice a week and distributing eggs five days a week, Holt said. Their production program handles 14,000 chickens and more than 3.3 million eggs a year, according to a news release. Phil Bass, an animal science senior said the processing of the eggs is the most gratifying part of his experience.

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