CORVALLIS, Oregon, July 25, 2005:
Plenty of college kids still subsist on a steady diet
of ramen noodles, cold cereal and beer.
Not Nate France. The crop and soil sciences major at
Oregon State University wouldn't dream of following
the well-beaten path to the local fast-food restaurants
for cheap, mammoth burgers.
Instead, every Thursday afternoon until the sun sets,
France helps till and tend a pocket-size, student-run
organic farm on a couple of soil-rich acres just outside
the western Oregon college town of Corvallis.
"I sowed some corn while it was raining, and then
I tamped down the soil too much; it caked up, hard as
a brick, and the corn plants couldn't come up,"
said France, 27, who dreams out loud about farming his
own land someday. "This next time, I know to mix
manure in. This is like a trial by fire, a way to make
mistakes before it matters too much."