Founded in 1974 and purchased by the University of San Francisco in 2017, Star Route Farms is the oldest continuously certified organic row crop farm in the state of California. Star Route Farms is located about an hour north of San Francisco in Bolinas and runs seasonally, harvesting and distributing produce six days out of the week to local restaurants, farmers markets, and even universities like USF. Star Route Farms produce can be found all over campus throughout the week, both incorporated into student meals in our dining halls as well as distributed for free to students to cook with. If students are interested in getting their hands on fresh, organic, and healthy produce, the USF Food Pantry offers a wide variety of in-season veggies from Star Route Farms during hours of operation, all at no cost. In addition, Professor Melinda Stone’s Community Garden Outreach class utilizes Star Route Farms produce in their cooking, usually with tons of leftovers which is then advertised for pickup to USF’s student body.

A field of crops with a mountain in the background.

As a graduating senior studying Environmental Science and Environmental Studies who has also been working with the Office of Sustainability for the past two and a half years, I’ve been familiar with Star Route Farms in conversation, particularly about its status as a carbon sink for the university (if you’re interested in learning more about carbon sinks, offsets, and carbon neutrality at USF, I encourage you to read my most recent blog post which dives a bit deeper into this). During my years at USF, it has been my goal to go beyond conversation and actually visit our esteemed farm, and I’ve advocated for more students to be able to utilize this space. I feel this experience could lead to unique and engaging learning opportunities with our land as well as with USF’s core values.

Luckily, with only three weeks before graduation, I was presented with an opportunity to visit Star Route Farms with USF’s SEEDS (Strategies for Ecology Education Diversity and Sustainability) club during a BioBlitz event. According to SEEDS, a BioBlitz is an “educational event where participants work together to identify and record as many species of plants, animals, fungi, and other organisms as possible within a designated area and time frame.” We drove up to Star Route Farms, and as a team we worked to identify plants and animals as well as learn more about the space we were immersed in. It was a great opportunity to get out of the city, utilize more of USF’s spaces, and collaborate with student organizations.

A person looking at the ocean with binoculars.

Additional ways for students to get involved with Star Route Farms include research opportunities, retreats, extended community garden outreach classes, and club events. My advice to current USF students coming from a graduating senior is to look out for these opportunities and explore ways to get involved. It is never too late to learn more about your university and to take advantage of the unique learning opportunities available. Star Route Farms is an amazing place as well as an amazing resource, and although I was only able to visit at the very end of my college career, I am very thankful for it! This is just a quick introduction into Star Route Farms, and there is truly so much more to learn! I encourage readers to explore further resources below, if interested.

For those interested in learning more about BioBlitzing, check out fellow Sustainability Specialist Lauren Crane’s blog post, Bioblitzing and the Pursuit of Nature in San Francisco

Additional Resources