Photo by Cade Schmidt

The busiest months of the year for the Outback Farm occur in the summer. Because of summer break, the farm’s pool of volunteers depletes.


Two positions, the Outback coordinator and the Outback assistant coordinator, manage the five-acre farm virtually alone. This summer, the Associated Students opened two new positions for the Outback Farm through the Outback summer apprentice program.


The apprenticeship is a three-month position during the summer that will care and manage the farm when it produces the most food, said Roby Ventres-Pake, Outback coordinator.


The positions are accepting applications at as.wwu.edu/personnel/. The position closes April 5.


The Outback Farm is collaborative program between Fairhaven College and the Associated Students. The farm is five acres and student run, and is located at the southern end of Fairhaven College.


It teaches sustainable growing and land use methods to students.


The AS is funding the new positions based on a proposal written by Ventres-Pake. The goal of the new positions is to gain help on the farm, but also provide experience for the apprentices. Apprentices will learn and work with many aspects of small-scale farming, Ventres-Pake said.


Greg McBride, an advisor for the Environmental and Sustainability Programs, assisted Ventres-Pake with the proposal.


The proposal consisted of three different sections. The first was to refocus the Outback Farm into a production-based agriculture. With this change, the farm will be utilized to grow more produce. Additionally, the Outback Farm created a partnership where the Bellingham Food Bank and will donate most of its produce to it, McBride said.


“I think a lot of people in the community think about Western as that place on the hill and don’t connect with it,” Ventres-Pake said. “[Our partnership] with the food bank can quantify the positive effects of the additional positions and help us connect with the Bellingham community.”


The food bank and the farm’s partnership is mutual: the bank donates some additional seeds to the farm, and the farm donates its produce from those seeds, McBride said.


Ventres-Pake started thinking of the new positions last summer, when he and the assistant coordinator maintained the farm last year. The two part-time employees cultivated the farm during its peak season.


“It’s funny the way the school system works in terms of the farm,” Ventres-Pake said.


The apprenticeship positions could be used as training, Ventres-Pake said. He hopes the two apprentices will come back during the school year and volunteer on the farm. In the future, they could also apply for the coordinator or assistant coordinator position.


“[The new positions] are really great. It is going to make a big change in what the Outback will accomplish,” said John Tuxill, the faculty advisor for the Outback Farm.