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WWU / Fairhaven College of Interdiscipinary Studies

The Outback Farm: History

The Outback has a long and detailed history with Fairhaven College. "Outbackers" used to live in the Burns Cabins, on the site originally named "The Outback Pig Farm" working cooperatively and educating the community about issues of conservation, restoration, and farming. Now students no longer live there, but its gardens are used as a resource for many programs, classes, and community groups. Burns Cabins

A Timeline

  • 1920 June and Farrar Burn homestead the land and build two cabins.
  • 1969 The Outback slated to become dorms and parking lots.
  • 1972 Students initiate the Outback Pig Farm
  • 1978 Student proposal to become the Outback Program, is accepted but is later dropped by administration.
  • 1980's Students begin experimental living in Outback. A barn is raised. Classes begin to utilize the Outback.
  • 1990's New student energy intitiates wetland designation and restoration. A greenhouse is constructed. Students bring in ducks, and establish annual Earth Day Events. First performance stage is built.
  • 1996 First Earthday in Outback.
  • 1999 Outback receives endorsement and academic protection from WWU.
  • 2000 "Outback Cooperative Project".
  • 2001 "Ecovillage Design" Course. Hundreds attend Earth Day. Food grown for homeless shelters through Fruitful Gatherings. Solar pv system installed.
  • 2002 Huxley and Fairhaven complete an academic proposal.
  • 2003 Proposal to become an official Associated Students Program. Students begin designing new performance stage.
  • 2004 Push continues for program status. Stage design complete.
  • 2006 OB becomes AS program and 1st salaried student coordinator hired; Community Garden restored- creating a 'pea patch' format for students, faculty, staff, and community members to have their own garden plots; Educational Garden started (originally 'Market Garden') Food grown for volunteers and Bellingham Food Bank
  • 2007 CDC (Early Childhood Development Center) garden started; Received $11,000 AS grant to fund green house and tool shed replacement, cedar signs, and raised beds for Community Garden; Students replaced green house
  • 2008 students take down old dilapidated tool shed and sauna buildings and build new tool shed; Students install cedar signs that Facilities made
  • 2009 students complete Amphitheater framing; Students form Burns' Cabins Restoration Project.
  • May 2010 Amphitheater is completed!



A more detailed history, "A Brief Outback Historical Review" is available via the Outback Experiential Learning Site (OELS) website.


In 2002, Former Dean Ron Riggins also wrote a history of the Outback, "A Report on the Outback."


Bradley J. Pavilik's "The Outback Community Design Charette" combines all historical information in one site.