The Berea College Farm is one of the oldest continuously operating and most highly diversified student educational farms in the United States. Located in the Knobs along the edge of the Bluegrass Region, the Farm borders the campus of Berea College and the City of Berea and consists of pastures, cropland, gardens, woodlots and ponds on about 500 acres. The Farm is an educational laboratory for students in the Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) program and a working model of sustainable agriculture in the region. Students who work on the Farm as part of the College’s labor program produce beef cattle, hogs, chickens, eggs, goats, fish, honey bees, grains, pulses, vegetables, fruits, and herbs, all of which are sold locally, mostly to the College’s dining hall and to the public via the campus store and area farmers market.
The Farm is an essential educational resource that compliments and reinforces in-class
academic learning by serving as the main laboratory for most of the courses taught in the ANR Program and providing students with practical work and management experience through the College Labor Program. The daily farming operations throughout the year are carried out by students with supervision and support from staff and faculty. Students play a fundamentally important role in all aspects of the Farm’s operation, including enterprise development and management, production, equipment maintenance, marketing, and financial planning. The income generated supports practical, hands-on education for students in sustainable agriculture and foods systems.
The farm provides employment for most, though not all, ANR majors during any given year (about 50 students). Students employed on the College Farm are expected to participate in all enterprises during the beginning of their first year. This means that they work with field crops, horticultural crops, livestock, equipment maintenance, and even marketing and sales. By the second semester, students are given the chance to focus more in an area of interest and eventually have the opportunity to become enterprise managers, making management decisions and coordinating activities and student workers.
The College Farm and ANR Program have a tight working partnership. Our goal is that the College Farm serve as a model of sustainable agriculture, broadly defined as ecologically sound (resourceful and holistic), socially acceptable (safe, fair, and just), economically viable (financially solvent and potentially profitable), and humane (ethical and caring). The Farm provides opportunities for students to learn about and gain experience in planning, supervising, and evaluating agricultural enterprises and applying technical knowledge to address real management challenges. Students are expected to demonstrate and develop stewardship, leadership, cooperation, teamwork, and safe and ethical work habits to advance the whole-farm system.
The College Forest, although not part of the College Farm, is valuable educational resource that provides interested students with opportunities to gain practical experience in forestry in the 8,000 acres of forest. Work activities include timber stand improvement, invasive plant control, and trail maintenance. Students with a special interest in natural resource management can gain valuable practical field experience to complement their courses.