In recent years, the college food movement has been catching on across the country. Campus farms act as a place of research, hands-on learning, food education, food production, and often as a place for members of the community to get involved. These college farms range in scale, production, and location. However, they all provide enrichment for their students and communities alike.
(Farms presented in no particular order, numbers are not for ranking)
1. Evergreen State College – Olympia, WA
Located in a forest clearing near the main campus, Evergreen State College’s organic farm produces fruits, vegetables, herbs, and cut flowers. The farm also houses chickens and sheep. Students are able to purchase produce on campus from the farm’s stand.The farm is maintained by a professional farm manager, faculty, and students.
2. Oberlin College George Jones Farm – Oberlin, OH
Oberlin’s George Jones farm is located just a mile east from the main campus, and is easily accessible to students and community members that want to learn about native plant species, restorative agriculture, soil building, or just want to learn more about where their food comes from. On top of providing plenty of learning experiences, the farms also offers a CSA share program.
3. Hampshire College Farm – Amherst, MA
One of the heftier farms on the list, the Hampshire College Farm devotes 15 acres of land to vegetable production and 65 acres to livestock and pasture. This farm boasts a vegetable production of 75,000 pounds per year, 25 gallons of maple syrup per year (derived from 1000 gallons of sap), an estimated honey bee population of around 65,000, and 200 CSA shares, with 75 of theses shares going directly to the campus dining hall. The farm also host several community events and festivals throughout the year.
4. Middlebury College Farm – Middlebury, VT
Despite being the smallest campus farm on the list, Middlebury College’s farm provides a significant amount of produce to the Middlebury community and the campus’ dining services through CSA shares. Because of its relatively small size, the farm can be managed by two student interns during the school year and by four during the Summer.
5. UMass Amherst Student Farm – Amherst, MA
With strong sustainability and environmental studies programs, UMass Amherst’s student farm serves as a hub for research, hands-on education, and student involvement. The farm also has a 60 member CSA shares, going to various campus dining services an d local markets.
6. Dickinson College Organic Farm – Carlisle, PA
On top of allowing students and volunteers to learn about sustainable agriculture, Dickinson College’s organic farm also offers various workshops and events throughout the year. Events are diverse, whether it be a workshop on renewable energy workshop or just a night to cook and eat wood-fire pizza.
7. CSU Chico University Farm – Chico, CA
Easily the largest campus-run farm on this list (maybe even the largest in the country), this California State University farm serves a place for food production, education, and research. The 15 full-time staff and 35 student part-time student workers that run the farm certainly have their work cut out for them. The farm’s 800 acres are home to row crops, orchards, sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, a dairy unit, and various research labs.
8. Ursinus College – Collegeville, PA
Much like Middlebury College’s farm, Ursinus’ campus farm does not let its relatively small acreage hold it back. In these 2.5 acres, the farm packs in 20 raised beds, chickens, and bee colonies. Several classes tie the farm to their curriculums, including land management, food justice, ecology, animal rights, and biodiversity.
9. Goshen College Merry Lea Sustainable Farm – Wolf Lake, IN
On top of fruits and vegetables, the Merry Lea farm also produces shiitake mushrooms, tree nuts, and poultry. A notable aspect of the farm is its k-12 programs, making it possible for virtually any member of the Wolf Lake community to experience outdoor education.
10. Clemson University Student Organic Farm – Clemson, SC
Offering two 14-week CSA opportunities, Clemson’s student organic farm is heavily reliant on student involvement in all aspects, including production, management, and marketing. Full-time farm faculty, on top of working the farm, offer lessons in permaculture design concepts and economic sustainability.
Regardless of size, whether is be two acres or 800 acres, campus farms are able to produce food and provide for their community and students alike. And while farms like the one in Chico are certainly impressive, Middlebury College and Ursinus College prove that size is not a limitation. As a matter of fact, my own hometown has a successful one acre farm that provides produce for CSA shares, farmers markets, and food pantries. To give an idea of how much land an acre is, one square mile is equivalent to 600 acres. So really, campuses can even establish small gardens on campus, not just off. And as urban farming and campus farming continue to catch on, new methods of maximizing space are bound to develop and increase the yields small farms can harvest.
Evergreen State: http://evergreen.edu/organicfarm/