The Berea College Farm is one of the oldest, continuously operating, and most highly diversified student educational farms in the United States. The farm is located in the Knobs along the edge of the Bluegrass Region. It borders the campus of Berea College and the City of Berea and consists of:
- and ponds on about 500 acres.
The Farm is an essential educational resource that complements and reinforces in-class academic learning. It does this by serving as the main laboratory for most of the courses taught in the ANR Department. It also provides students with practical work and management experience through the Labor Program. Students handle the daily farming operations throughout the year. College Farm staff and ANR faculty provide supervision and support.
The farm provides employment for most, though not all, ANR majors any given year (45 students). Students employed on the College Farm should take part in all enterprises during the beginning of their first year. This means that they work with:
- field crops
- horticultural crops
- beef cattle
- equipment maintenance
- feed mill
By the second semester, students are given the chance to focus more in an area of interest. They eventually have the opportunity to become enterprise managers. This entails making management decisions and coordinating activities and student workers.
The farm consists of about 100 acres of row crops, 200 acres of hay and silage, and 180 acres of pasture land. Corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa, native grasses, and turnips are part of the crop rotation. Livestock enterprises, a major component of the College Farm, include cattle, hogs, and goats. The agronomic crops grown are the primary feed for the livestock, which are sold to generate income. Livestock are marketed through auctions and through local direct sales to members of the college and surrounding community. Recently, we have experimented with meat processing and value-added product development. This includes sausage and jerky. The horticultural component of the College Farm, known as the Gardens and Greenhouse, produces:
- and garden plants.
This is grown on about 5 acres. It serves the Berea Farmers Market, College Food Service, and area restaurants, cafés, and stores. The area has been under certified organic management since 1998. Compost is made from food residuals collected daily from the College’s Food Service. It’s used as the primary soil amendment and the bulk of the greenhouse potting medium. There is also a small apiary located in the gardens for honey production, pollination, and teaching. We recently completed the construction of a bread oven. It’s used for making bread and pizza from the certified organic wheat and vegetables produced on the farm.
The College Farm and ANR Department have a special working partnership. An ANR Department goal is that the College Farm serve as a model of sustainable agriculture. This is broadly defined as being:
- ecologically sound (resourceful and holistic),
- socially acceptable (safe, fair, and just),
- economically viable (financially solvent and potentially profitable),
- and humane (ethical and caring).
It provides opportunities for students to learn about and gain experience in:
- and evaluating agricultural enterprises and applying technical knowledge to address 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 managed by the ANR Department or the College Farm, is valuable educational resource that provides students in ANR with opportunities to work for the College Forester on approximately 8,000 acres of forest. Work activities include timber stand improvement, invasive plant control, and trail maintenance. Students with an interest in natural resource management can gain practical field experience to complement their courses.