College dining halls turning to organic food

By Julia Silverman The Associated Press

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."