College farms are a growing concern, but let’s face it: not all students want to grow vegetables and fruit. For many, farming is focused on raising and caring for animals. Some students look for a college run animal farm in connection with an agriculture major, while others simply know they love animals and want to gain experience with as many kinds as possible.
In considering our pool of college farms, we wanted meaningful student involvement so that future students know they will interact with a number of different kinds of animals and will assist in marketing to the community as well. Among college farms with significant student and community involvement, only about 20 of the 100 we reviewed had an animal component. And of those 20, only a dozen had a good diversity of animal types at the farm (at least three) and demonstrable economic involvement in the local food community by marketing products of at least two different types of animals. Thus we excluded college farms that are mainly large-scale agribusiness operations, veterinary programs, market gardens, or research facilities.
Here are the Top 10 College Run Farms for Animal Husbandry, with a focus on diversity of animals raised and economic involvement in the local community. They are presented by region in no particular order. Each one presents an excellent opportunity for students interested in working at a college farm with animals, with unique strengths detailed in the farm profile.
Information about which animals are raised and which products are sold by the farm had to be clearly indicated on the farm’s website in order to be considered for our listing.
Santa Rosa Junior College Shone Farm – Forestville, CA
The 365-acre Shone Farm at Santa Rosa Junior College boasts a great variety of agricultural pursuits available for its students, including an extensive animal husbandry component. Students will work with beef cattle, sheep, goats, horses, burros, and a llama at Shone’s extensive facilities. Grass-fed beef and lamb is available by direct sales; see order form and prices on website. Other farm products are available at campus eateries and farm stands as well as local markets and restaurants. Students may be selected to live at the farm dorms in exchange for farm work.
California State University, Chico University Farm – Chico, CA
Cal State Chico’s University Farm, founded in 1960, spreads out over 800 beautiful northern California acres. Animal components includes organic dairy, pigs, sheep, beef, and goats. Though Chico is a large farm, students are still very much involved both in management and daily operation — there are more than 35 part-time student workers in the overall farm effort (crops and animals). At the Meat Lab and at local restaurants the community can purchase beef, pork, lamb, and goat. See website for prices.
Deep Springs College – Big Pine, CA
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. Each student works 20 hours per week, and agricultural pursuits include the cattle ranch, the alfalfa farm, and the organic garden. Beef cattle is sold off-campus, while pigs, broilers, hens, and a dairy barn benefit the college dining halls. Growing through the triad of academics, labor, and self-governance, students go on to prestigious four-year institutions after their time at Deep Springs.
Evergreen State College Organic Farm – Olympia, WA
Students at Evergreen work to raise animals for wool, eggs, and meat. Learning about animal husbandry includes working with Jacob’s sheep, laying hens, heritage breed broilers, and honeybees. The Evergreen community enjoys this locally produced food at weekly farm stands and eateries on campus. Farm visits are open to the entire community, from pre-schoolers to retirees.
College of the Ozarks – Point Lookout, MO
Students looking for hands-on experience in not only animal husbandry but also marketing will want to take a good look at College of the Ozarks. Seven to nine students work in all phases of the 200-head beef farm, and are even involved in cattle auctions. Thirty-five students are assigned to work the dairy farm, which milks up to 60 cows (majority Holstein). Five to seven students are stationed to work at the hog farm to breed, care for, and market pigs. There is even a USDA-inspected processing facility where students can learn the ropes in a supervised setting. Products are found at the dining hall, farmers’ markets, and local restaurants. Students at College of the Ozarks, also known as “Hard Work U,” work their way through college in exchange for full tuition remission.
Berry College Farms – Mt. Berry, GA
At Berry, all students who so desire are assured a paid work experience in one of the 300 types of jobs available. Among these are the Student-Operated Enterprises, including the Berry Farms. The farms include Angus Beef, Berry Bees, Blue Hen Eggs, and Jersey Milk. Students of any major can experience producing and marketing beef, honey, eggs, milk, and cheese to restaurants, farmers’ markets, and the community through direct sales at the farm.
Warren Wilson College Farm – Asheville, NC
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 farm sells an impressive diversity of animal products: lamb, chicken, beef, pork, and eggs. On campus, these are available at the dining hall and the college bookstore; off campus, the community can buy directly from the farm or find products at East Asheville Tailgate Market. A price list is available on the farm’s website.
Berea College Farm – Berea, KY
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, including animal husbandry. The farm raises and sells an impressive diversity of animal products: beef , pork, chicken, eggs, goat, fish (tilapia, catfish, prawns), and honey. These are sold to college dining services, the campus farmers’ market, the Berea College Farm Store, and local restaurants and cafés. The website makes it easy for customers to find products.
Hampshire College Farm – Amherst, MA
The Hampshire College Farm boasts a highly developed CSA program not only for vegetables, but also a 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; fresh eggs are sold through dining services. Students also have the opportunity to work with a honeybee population of over 65,000. The site is always open to the public, and the annual farm festival with contra dance showcases the fun of the farm environment.
Green Mountain College Cerridwen Farm – Poultney, VT
Cerridwen Farm is the student-driven animal and vegetable 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. The campus and greater community can experience Green Mountain animal products in the dining hall, as CSA members, or at local farmers’ markets, whether milk, eggs, pork, or beef. Students working the farm may gain experience plowing with horses or oxen, milking cows and goats, and lambing.
By CVO Staff