The Body Farm Won’t Be in a Tour Pamphlet of Texas at Any Point in Time

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What is commonly referred to as “the body farm” here in Texas is actually not the psychotic hatching of ideas in a brain gone awry, which may at first come to mind. In fact, it’s officially called the Forensic Anthropology Research Facility, or FARF for short. Yes, it really is a farm. It’s a ranch, actually – Freeman Ranch, to be exact. However, it belongs to Texas State University and it serves as a forensic anthropology resource for researchers, students, and national as well as state authorities for the purpose of learning those very things that you watch nightly or weekly on TV – decomposition processes, postmortem changes, and how various conditions can alter or affect a corpse.

The Body Farm Won’t Be in A Tour Pamphlet of Texas At Any Point in Time

Photo: Facebook/Centre for Forensic Anthropology

A 26-acre outdoor facility for the study of human decomposition, the FARF is situated at Texas State’s Freeman Ranch. Their research laboratory is also on site and it’s the largest of its kind. Does that surprise you? Everything’s big in Texas! Even our semi-gross-but-not-really-when-you-think-about-it kind of things! Used to assist those in forensic science, the body farm is not only a place for the study of body decomposition, but it’s also a tremendous training tool in the back pocket of law enforcement and medico-legal representatives with respect to search and recovery regarding human remains in their particular context.

The Body Farm Won’t Be in A Tour Pamphlet of Texas At Any Point in Time

Photo: Facebook/Texas State University-Clinical Laboratory Sciences Program

Due to the need to advance study techniques in body decay pertaining to patterns, sequences, and rates, FARF was conceived to support such methods applicable to not only Texas but all western states as well. Opening in 2008, research has been carried out on close to 150 donor individuals, with an additional 200 living people who are pre-registered as donors in an effort to continue this very necessary forensic program. Once donor bodies are removed from the farm and properly processed, they are held in perpetuity and then formally accepted into the permanent Texas State Donated Skeletal Collection. Forming the grounds for future research, this collection of documented contemporary skeletal remains will be used for further scientific education and research for years to come.

The Body Farm Won’t Be in A Tour Pamphlet of Texas At Any Point in Time

Photo: Facebook/National Forensic Academy Collegiate Program

As a result of the sensitive nature of the ongoing research and privacy concerns that the body donors and their families had upon approval and documentation, the University of Texas does not allow access to or tours of the Forensic Anthropology Research Facility or its laboratory. Access is limited strictly to faculty and enrolled anthropology graduate students of Texas State, as well as approved researchers, authorized law enforcement officials, and recovery workshop participants during the course of any and all training exercises. You won’t be seeing this in a tour pamphlet of Texas at any point in time, but it’s good to know that the state, the school, and the ranch land in question are doing such research and putting their best foot forward in such science and studies.


Texas State

Texas State FARF