Berea College Farm
The Berea College 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 Department 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 College Farm staff and ANR faculty members.
The farm provides employment for most, though not all, ANR majors during any given year (45 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, beef cattle, swine, and goats, equipment maintenance, and the feed mill. 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 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 feedstock 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, including sausage and jerky.
The horticultural component of the College Farm, known as the Gardens and Greenhouse, produces vegetables, fruits, herbs, mushrooms, and garden plants on about 5 acres for 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 and 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 we now use 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, 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). It provides opportunities for students to learn about and gain experience in planning, supervising, 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.