TAMU Urban Farm United

TUFU -TAMU Urban Farm United

Lisette Templin - Department of Health and Kinesiology
Broch Saxton - Lead greenhouse management - Department of Soil and Crop


Capstone project requirements:

  1. Food production - 5-8 hours per week

    1. Growing seedlings

    2. Harvesting

    3. Data collecting

    4. Cleaning out the towers twice a semester

    5. Training

  2. Publicity and outreach - 2 days per semester

    1. Traveling Tower Tour Teachings - T4

      1. Sharing the "Compassionate Eats" messages about 12th Can and Hunger Consortium.

      2. Health impact - locally and globally

      3. Environmental impact - locally and globally

    2. Events for T4

      1. Wellness fairs

      2. Intercollegiate showcase events

      3. Community meal events


Project Description

We are a brand new concept organization on the campus of TAMU. We are TUFU, TAMU Urban Farm United. Our purpose is to shine the light on the concept of "Compassionate Eats". Though the project is around the efficacy of growing fresh organic food within easy reach, the heart of the project is about "Compassionate Eats" community building. As food links us all at a very fundamental level, TUFU enables the launch of compassionate actions around solving the problems of food insecurities, as well as educational awareness on human health and environmental health.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMx-OBeSGsA (Stephen Ritz - movement to eliminate food insecurities.)


We are under the category of Outreach and Services

TAMU Urban Farm United (TUFU) will be a micro-farm project utilizing a vertical aeroponic food growing. (https://www.towergarden.com/)
We will demonstrate to all Aggies how to grow food easily and efficiently. Our first goal is to distribute the fresh food to 12th Can, TAMU's food pantry. The patrons of 12th Can will harvest fresh, organic produce directly off the towers, allowing for hyper-local food consumption. Hyperlocal is food grown, processed, and consumed at the neighborhood level of a community. As we grow food to serve the recipients of the 12th Can, we will also unite efforts with 2 other partners, the Hunger Consortium project initiated under LAUNCH and the School of Public Health. We are united in our efforts to address and help solve the problems of our on campus population dealing with food insecurities. Our larger vision is for tower gardens to provide fresh food to campus dining facilities and to foster a vision of a self sustaining University campus on hyper-local food growing through the vertical aeroponic farming system. This technology offers to students of TAMU an applied science relevant to student coursework around nutrition, health, environmental responsibilities, and community development.


TUFU will address the following campus sustainability components:
Environmental impact:

1- Minimal use of bug control measures (safe & organic)

By growing crops off the ground, the risk of soil-borne pests and plant diseases is
reduced. Since each tower grows independently, it is possible to isolate and address any issues that can arise without jeopardizing the entire farm.


2- Increase in nutrient density

Hyper-local eating provides for an increased in nutrient density of food since transport time is eliminated. Produce is picked at the peak of freshness.

3 - Grow sustainably and use up to 98% less water

With closed-loop technology, Tower Farm systems recycle water and nutrients. In turn, they use up to 98% less water than conventional farms. This is especially critical for those growing in drought-stricken regions or where land and water or otherwise restricted.


4- Choose from more than 150 plants

Many hydroponic farming systems limit what you can grow. But Tower Farms
supports more than 150 different plants - from delicate herbs and greens to hearty fruiting crops, such as tomatoes and squash. As a result, the farm can adapt crop
selection strategy on the fly to meet market demand.


5 - Simplify the farming process

Farming is hard work. Tower Farms makes it easier by automating feeding and watering cycles, eliminating weeding and digging, and minimizing pest risk. The bio-degradable food grade plastic is made for decades of usage, thus eliminating the need to rebuild planting beds and refreshing soil.


Social benefits:


1 - Campus beautification through food production

Urban Farm food production can be grown in a variety of unlikely places: The unique design of the vertical aeroponic system can re-purpose any visually undesirable space into beautiful and productive green space. Potential beautification spaces are rooftops, abandoned parking lots, unused warehouses or abandoned green houses. We will be repurposing an abandoned greenhouse donated to us by SSC.


2- Educational Outreach

TAMU Urban Farm is an outreach educational program. The program teaches the
efficacy of food growing to people outside of the discipline of agriculture. Students of all disciplines are invited to collaborate on hyperlocal growing. TUFU is a wonderful project to involve Honors students looking for Capstone projects. 

3- Collaborative learning

As an extension of providing food for 12th Can, we will partner with LAUNCH and its "Hunger Consortium" initiative as well as the School of Public Health to launch further education and solutions to alleviate sufferings from food insecurities.


4- Entrepreneurial education

Because the vertical aeroponic system requires minimal knowledge of farming, students are encouraged to learn the "farmerpreneur" concept of setting up urban farms in cities across the country allowing them to own their own environmentally responsible businesses.


Broader campus sustainability initiatives


TUFU specifically addresses the strategic imperatives laid out by President Young through the State Of The University Address:
"I'm thrilled to speak with you today about three strategic imperatives that revolve around collaboration. Collaboration not just for the sake of it, but to create a better world, Join me In building out the areas of best practice we’ve talked about  across our strategic imperatives - Transformational Learning; Discovery and Innovation, and Impact ... by collaborating with colleagues inside and outside of your departments, colleges and schools to continue to drive towards excellence  in all that we do.” https://president.tamu.edu/messages/state-of-the-university-2016.html

  1. TUFU by nature is transformative learning. It offers an immediate hands on experience of how locally grown foods can positively affect personal health while simultaneously expanding to community and environmental health.

  2. TUFU, due to its natural community building and problem solving capabilities, invites interdisciplinary collaboration, discovery and innovation to transform human relationships with food.

  3. Vertical tower farms have already proven its ability to impact the nation. Projects using vertical tower garden~ are changing the learning landscape of inner urban schools at the K-12 level. There is an in-classroom curriculum designed to transform the ways the topics of science, math and humanities are taught in schools: The students are learning the art of hands-on farming inside their classroom. TUFU, after its initial implementation and cultivation, will look to partner with the College of Education to demonstrate the curriculum of how to transform a classroom into a living garden.


If you are interested in participating in constructing the Vertical Gardens for your Service Capstone, please contact: Lisette Templin - Department of Health and Kinesiology lisettetemplin@tamu.edu
Broch Saxton - Lead green house management - Department of Soil and Crop

How To Use the TUFU to fulfill your capstone requirements:
  • Register for UGST 497-597 (Service Capstone)
  • Email Lisette Templin about your intent to participate
  • Apply for the Undergraduate Service Scholar Capstone (Applications Open on July 1)