By CVO Staff
September 2015

CSU Chico Farm

The college farm movement has seen steady growth in the last ten years along with the farm to table phenomenon, as our ranking of the Top 30 Sustainable College Run Farms will attest. College farms are no longer just research sites, but have evolved to become centers of student solidarity and community nutrition. To be considered for our top 30 ranking, our initial pool of 100 college farms had to demonstrate sustainability. This sustainability was measured in terms of significant student involvement, environmentally friendly methods, diversity of production, connection with college instruction, and farm sales targeting both the college and surrounding community.

Here are more specifics of our Ranking System:

Total farm size in acres: 1 point (10 acres or less); 2 points (11-50 acres); 3 points (over 50 acres)
Certified organic: 1 point
Animal component (milk, eggs, pork, beef, lamb, or honey): 1 point
Academic courses on farm: 1 point
Sells to campus dining hall: 1 point
Sells at other on campus / on farm venue: 1 point
Sells CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) basket shares: 1 point
Sells at off-campus venue (restaurant, market, etc.): 1 point

In the case of a tie in points, higher ranking was given to the farm with more overall acreage, with a further tie being broken by number of points of sale.

30. Butte College Farm – Oroville, CA

Butte College Farm

Website
Points: 4

Butte College Farm near Chico boasts 85 acres of bountiful diversity, including hay, seeds, vegetables, and fruit. Among fruits are peaches, apples, and three varieties of red-wine grapes on the 6-acre vineyard. Seventeen acres overall are certified organic. Butte is part of the California Community College system and has made sustainability a major part of its strategic initiatives, being the first community college to host the California Student Sustainability Coalition.

29. Hampshire College Farm – Amherst, MA

Editor’s note: Based on new information, Hampshire College Farm has been moved to the number four spot on this list.

28. Guilford College Farm – Greensboro, NC

Guilford College Farm

Website
Points: 5

Guilford College has been serious about stewardship since 1837. A major sustainability initiative at the Greensboro campus is the 3-acre farm, which produces over 10,000 pounds of vegetables each year. Outlets include dining services, an on-campus farmers’ market, CSA shares, and local grocers and restaurants. Guilford students learn the entire range of skills needed to run a sustainable farm, from starting seeds to earth-friendly methods to direct marketing.

27. Evergreen State College Organic Farm – Olympia, WA

Evergreen State College Organic Farm

Website
Points: 5

Students at Evergreen can buy Organic Farm fruits and vegetables on campus at the Farm Stand, the Greenery, and the Flaming Eggplant. Reaching the farm is easy — follow the forest trail from of the edge of campus to find 5 acres set aside for students to learn sustainable methods and provide nutritious food for the campus. You will also find Jacob’s sheep, laying hens, and heritage breed broiler chickens raised for wool, eggs, and meat.

26. Goshen College Merry Lea Sustainable Farm – Wolf Lake, IN

Goshen College Merry Lea Farm

Website
Points: 5

Merry Lea is the Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College. On this nature preserve of over 1,000 acres, Goshen College has set aside 9 acres for its Sustainable Farm. The site features an impressive diversity of educational offerings, including the Agroecology Summer Intensive, K-12 programs, a Master’s in Environmental Education, as well as various programs offered to the public. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, mushrooms, chickens, and pigs are part of Merry Lea’s operations; happy customers include Goshen College dining services, Goshen Farmers’ Market, Maple City Market, and Pizzeria Venturi in Goshen.

25. Washington State University Eggert Family Organic Farm – Pullman, WA

WSU Eggert Farm

Website
Points: 5

Teaching skills in small-scale organic fruit and vegetable farming is a main objective of the 30-acre Eggert Farm, along with producing nutritious food for CSA members, local food banks and other non-profits. Students studying in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences can take a Practicum in Organic Agriculture, and community members can sign up for a multi-week Organic Gardening Intensive, helping to take their home garden or market garden business to the next level of sustainability and productivity. Costs for this latter course are reduced significantly for students willing to donate 20 hours of work to the farm.

24. Oberlin College George Jones Farm – Oberlin, OH

Oberlin College George Jones Farm

Website
Points: 5

Students, faculty, and community members working at the 70-acre George Jones Farm approach agriculture from an ecosystem perspective so that soil, water, forests, wetlands, food, animals, and people are working together in a sustainable fashion. Intern-apprentices take key roles in producing fruit and vegetables for the campus and the farm’s CSA share program, City Fresh. The connection of sustainable farming with natural building techniques has also come into focus at the farm’s timber-frame straw bale office and learning center, built by former farm employee Chris Fox, now with Fox Natural Building.

23. Purdue University Student Farm – West Lafayette, IN

Purdue University Farm

Website
Points: 6

Students learn about sustainable production, running a successful business, and preparing vegetables in beautiful and nutritious ways at the Purdue University Student Farm. A diverse team maintains day to day operations, from a farm manager to undergraduate employees to students taking courses. The Purdue community is privileged to find produce at several different outlets on and off campus, including the West Layette Farmers’ Market, Purdue Farmers’ Market, CSA shares, and local grocers.

22. Pomona College Organic Farm – Claremont, CA

Pomona College Organic Farm

Website
Points: 6

Pomona College, part of the Claremont network of colleges, has operated a 1.2 acre farm since 1998. Visitors to the organically certified plot of land will find not only vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees, but also chickens, bees, and an earth dome. Courses such as Food, Land, and the Environment and Principles of Soil Science take advantage of the site, and the campus community can purchase farm harvests through the campus farm stand, Sagehen Café, or a summer produce box.

21. Middlebury College Farm – Middlebury, VT

Middlebury College Farm

Website
Points: 6

Middlebury College (founded 1800) promotes awareness of food production through hands-on learning and special events at its College Organic Farm. During the semester, two student interns manage operations, directing volunteers who keep the farm running. When school’s out, four summer interns continue production and sales. The two-acre farm is pleased to sell significant quantities of fruits and vegetables to campus dining services and to the Middlebury community through CSA shares.

20. University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus Cornercopia Student Organic Farm – St. Paul, MN

University of Minnesota Cornercopia Farm

Website
Points: 6

Cornercopia Student Organic Farm is a special place for building relationships, learning sustainable agriculture, and providing food for the community. Part of the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, the 3-acre certified organic farm produces over 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables on the St. Paul U of M campus. Passionate students started the farm in 2004, and passionate students continue to increase the productivity of the farm each year, directly benefitting the community through both on-site and off-campus markets.

19. Wilson College Fulton Farm – Chambersburg, PA

wilson college fulton farm

Website
Points: 6

The 7-acre Fulton Farm at Wilson College is Certified Naturally Grown, meaning that it is third-party verified for producing without chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizer. The farm has a number of ways to impact the community. Dining services purchases lettuce and tomatoes, while the market stand at Lenfest Commons runs weekly June through November. Off-campus, every Saturday in May through October, students sell at Chamberburg’s only open-air market, the North Square Farmers’ Market, and over 125 families connect to the Fulton Farm through Community Supported Agriculture shares.

18. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Organic Farm – San Luis Obispo, CA

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Organic Farm

Website
Points: 6

The 11-acre Organic Farm at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo exists primarily to give students hands-on learning opportunities in producing, marketing, and selling sustainably grown vegetables. In keeping with Cal Poly’s “Learn by Doing” philosophy of education, students work alongside faculty and volunteers to grow dozens of sorts of produce. Outlets include farmers’ stands on and off-campus, local restaurants and vendors, and local food banks.

17. Oxford College (of Emory University) Farm – Oxford, GA

Oxford College Emory Farm

Website
Points: 6

Daniel Parson, a Georgia Organics Land Steward of the Year medalist, leads the certified organic farm at Emory’s Oxford College into the future. All are welcome to come by and check out what’s growing, and will probably be put to work if they do! Established only in 2014, the Oxford Farm has rapidly established a positive presence in the community. Points of sale include dining services at Oxford and Emory, the Emory Farmers’ Market, and Community Supported Agriculture shares.

16.Clemson University Student Organic Farm – Clemson, SC

Clemson University Organic Student Farm

Website
Points: 6

The campus community at Clemson is privileged to have Community Supported Agriculture baskets available in both summer and fall formats thanks to the 15-acre Student Organic Farm. In each of the two 14-week periods, CSA members receive vegetables, small fruits, herbs, and cut flowers, thus supporting their local student farmers and increasing their own connection to the soil and the community. The farm, run primarily by students, also sells to local farmers’ markets.

15. Prescott College Wolfberry Farm – Prescott, AZ

Prescott College Wolfberry Farm

Website
Points: 6

Wolfberry Farm is an integral part of Prescott’s sustainability efforts. The 30-acre plot is certified organic, with farm implements, irrigation, and computers powered by solar energy. The over 30 kinds of plants in production are sold at the Prescott Farmers’ Market and as local CSA shares. Wolfberry exists both to give students a hands-on learning environment and to research practices that will make farming more sustainable.

14. University of California, Santa Cruz Farm and Alan Chadwick Garden – Santa Cruz, CA

UC Santa Cruz Farm

Website
Points: 6

Sustainable farming has a long history at UC Santa Cruz, dating back to 1967. From humble beginnings, over 30 acres of marginal land has been transformed into a teaching, research, and production center functioning as a model for sustainable organic agriculture and horticulture. The 3-acre garden bears the name of its founder, the father of the French-intensive/biodynamic method, Alan Chadwick. Local sales include dining services and restaurants on campus.

13. Santa Rosa Junior College Shone Farm – Forestville, CA

Santa Rosa Junior College Shone FarmWebsite
Points 6

The 365-acre Shone Farm at Santa Rosa Junior College boasts a great variety of agricultural pursuits available for its students: vineyards, forests, pastures, and crops. The twelve acres dedicated to sustainable crop production are an outdoor laboratory where students are involved at all stages of the production process, from planting to marketing to sales. Produce is sold on campus, at local farm stands, in the form of CSA shares, and even at top of the line markets and restaurants.

12. Ursinus College – Collegeville, PA

Ursinus College Organic Farm

Website
Points: 7

Bees, chickens, herbs, vegetables, and fruit bushes occupy the 2.5 acres at Ursinus College’s certified organic farm. All are welcome to come work the soil, play with the animals, or relax in a hammock. Sales reach includes dining services, the campus farm table, and the local Collegeville Farmer’s Market. Many Ursinus classes use the farm as part of their curriculum, and student farmers go on to work on their own farms or those of others across the country.

11. Michigan State University Student Organic Farm – E. Lansing, MI

Michigan State University Student Organic Farm

Website
Points: 7

The Student Organic Farm at Michigan State encourages not only teaching and research, but also production on its 10-acre plot and in its 16,000 square foot passive solar greenhouses that prolong the season. The dining hall, farm stand, and CSA members benefit from the Organic Farm, as do local businesses like The Brinery (fermented vegetables) and Drought (raw juice). MSU faculty members encourage the Farm by offering courses in organic farming and promoting research activity.

10. Green Mountain College Cerridwen Farm – Poultney, VT

Green Mountain College Farm

Website
Points: 7

Cerridwen Farm is the student-driven vegetable and animal husbandry initiative at Green Mountain College, voted a “Best Outdoor School” in 2014 by Outside Magazine. The farm educates through majors of study, intensive courses, and public events. Student farmers help members of the college and surrounding community feel good about what they eat through sales to the dining hall, CSA members, and local farmers’ markets.

9. College of the Atlantic Beech Hill Farm – Mount Desert Island, ME

College of the Atlantic Beech Hill Farm

Website
Points: 7

Boasting deep glacial soils in an idyllic island setting in Bar Harbor, College of the Atlantic’s Beech Hill Farm produces organic food for members of the campus and surrounding communities. Eighty percent of produce is sold directly to customers at the Beech Hill Farm Stand, and the rest is sold to the community in the form of CSA shares. Another interesting facet of Beech Hill’s sustainability is its exploration of alternative power sources, from solar to wind to biomass.

8. Deep Springs College – Big Pine, CA

Deep Springs College

Website
Points: 7

This unique two-year institution of higher learning offers its 26 students full scholarships in exchange for an active part in the school’s operations. Growing through the triad of academics, labor, and self-governance, students go on to prestigious four-year institutions after their time at Deep Springs. Each student works 20 hours per week, and agricultural pursuits include the cattle ranch, the alfalfa farm, and the organic garden.

7. Warren Wilson College Farm – Asheville, NC

Warren Wilson College Farm

Website
Points: 7

The Farm is a key element of Warren Wilson College’s fundamental triad of Work, Service, and Academics. Livestock and mixed crop production continues an agricultural tradition dating back more than 120 years on this 275-acre plot. Students looking for experience in grass-based beef and pork practices will want to take a good look at Warren Wilson. The whole student body benefits from the Farm when eating at the dining hall or purchasing meat directly from the college store.

6. University of California, Davis Student Farm – Davis, CA

UC Davis Farm

Website
Points: 8

Since 1977, the Student Farm at UC Davis has emphasized experiential learning, student initiative, and sustainable practices. Student interns, employees, and volunteers ensure a constant buzz of activity Monday through Friday throughout the year, providing the coordination and labor necessary to sell to dining services, the coffee house, the farmers market, and CSA members. The farm also supports university courses, K-12 learning, and seed research with the Organic Seed Alliance and other organizations.

5. University of Massachusetts, Amherst Student Farm – Amherst, MA

UMass Amhert Student Farm

Website
Points: 8

Though the smallest farm (12 acres) among our top five sustainable college run farms, University of Massachusetts, Amherst’s certified organic program is serious about empowering students and providing loads of nutrition to its campus and community. Campus outlets include a 60-member CSA, the Earthwoods Café, dining services, and farmers’ market; off-campus, the community can buy produce at local Big Y Supermarkets. Student farmers go on to start their own farms, manage for others, or become key players in major sustainable farming organizations.

4. Dickinson College Organic Farm – Carlisle, PA

Dickinson College Organic Farm

Website
Points: 8

Volunteers and student employees get their hands dirty at Dickinson’s 50-acre certified organic farm. The whole college community benefits when eating at campus dining halls, signing up for the May through November weekly CSA basket, or participating in fun events like the wood-fired Pizza on the Plaza, the Local Food Dinner, or the Harvest Fest. Educational programs benefit college students, area youth, and the general public.

4. Hampshire College Farm – Amherst, MA

Hampshire College Farm

Website
Points: 8

The Hampshire College Farm educates its community to expect more from its food. The site is always open to the public, and the annual farm festival with contra dance showcases the fun of the farm environment. A highly developed CSA program includes a 210-member vegetable share program, which includes u-pick access, as well as a new meat CSA, which is rare among college run farms. Grass-fed beef, lamb, and heritage pork is available in three installments of 12-15 pounds of meat each during the fall months.

3. Case Western Reserve University Farm – Cleveland, OH

Case Western Reserve University Farm

Website
Points: 8

Enthusiasm continues to grow for Case Western Reserve University’s 389-acre farm, where natural growing and tilling methods are favored and produce production has surpassed 10,000 lbs. The university community has easy access to harvests in the dining halls, at the farmers’ market, and through CSA shares. A broader public role is afforded by elementary school visits and food bank donations.

2. Berea College Farm – Berea, KY

Berea College Farm

Website
Points: 9

Most of the 45 majors in Berea’s Agriculture and Natural Resources program are employed at the College’s 480-acre farm, learning and implementing a great diversity of skills in farm production, from row-crop management to equipment maintenance to animal husbandry. The organically certified garden produce is sold to college dining services, the campus farmers’ market, the Berea College Farm Store, and local restaurants and cafés. Ag students who concentrate on forestry help manage 8,000 acres of college woodlands.

1. California State University, Chico University Farm – Chico, CA

CSU Chico Farm

Website
Points: 9

Founded in 1960, CSU Chico ranked number one among our sustainable college run farms. The beautiful northern California site spreads out over 800 acres and includes organic vegetables, organic dairy, orchards, beef, sheep, swine, and more. The more than 35 part-time student employees are involved at every level of farm production and are given significant responsibility in oversight and operations. Fruit and vegetables are available in dining halls and farmers’ stands on campus, and meat is sold to the public and in local restaurants.

Along with trends in sustainability and farm to table nutrition, these Top 30 Sustainable College Run Farms show that student-motivated college farms are on the rise; hands-on learners are getting their hands dirty, and entire campus communities are benefitting from the nutrition of local food.

Further Reading:

30 Best Value Agricultural Colleges

Online Agriculture Degrees: Top 8 Values 2016

Sustainability Degree Online by Affordability

Sustainable Agriculture Degrees by Net Price

Top 10 College Run Farms for Animal Husbandry