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Students Gain Understanding While Helping Region's Farmers

By Owen Murphy, Assistant Professor of Health and Human Performance

WWOLFOver the past year I have had the pleasure of getting involved with a program called Willing Workers On Local Farms (WWOLF). WWOLF's mission is to lend a helping hand to small farms while educating folks about the true nature (i.e., costs, efforts and rewards) of locally grown food. It is one of many wonderful volunteer programs supported by Central Oregon Locavore, a non-profit community center and local food marketplace located in Bend.

I first became acquainted with WWOLF through my Sustainable Food and Nutrition course (HHP 268) at Central Oregon Community College. Although its possible to learn about sustainable food via a textbook, I find that its much more effective and fun to learn by getting your hands dirty! I was looking for experiential learning opportunities for my students and Central Oregon Locavore was looking for someone to coordinate the WWOLF program. It was a perfect match.

As the coordinator of the WWOLF program my job is to arrange monthly work events at small farms around the area. The events generally run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and include a free lunch prepared with ingredients from each farm and/or donated by local businesses. Since March we have accumulated over 1000 volunteer work hours at five different farms. To be fair WWOLF events don't feel much like work they are fun, family-friendly gatherings filled with lots of goodwill, laughter and learning.

The remaining 2014 WWOLF events are scheduled for September 14 at Young Tree Organics in Bend and October 12 at Windy Acres Farm in Prineville. Please get in touch if you'd like to come out and get your hands dirty. For more information visit the WWOLF website or email me at omurphy@cocc.edu.

Many, many thanks to our local sponsors! The WWOLF program would not exist without the generous support of Central Oregon Locavore, Great Harvest Bread Company, Humm Kombucha, Natures Marketplace and Whole Foods.