From the windows of the college library, you’re likely to see an unusual sight for a liberal arts college: a working farm run by students, complete with a two-acre market garden, an assortment of gregarious livestock, a unique rotational-grazing program, and a greenhouse powered by sun and wind.
Although located on the south end of campus, the farm permeates the college campus. Raising food on a college campus requires that students consider the ecological, economic, and ethical issues associated with our plates and palates. These issues are inescapable when products from the farm enter not only the dining hall but also the discussions in the classroom and at the table. The growth of the GMC Farm and Food Project over the past decade is rooted in the sustainability interests of many of our students, but the success of the project must also be attributed to our faculty, who recognize the important questions surrounding food production.
The GMC Farm and Food Project is woven into the fabric of daily life at the College in a variety of ways: First, numerous courses address issues surrounding food, farming, land use, and associated values. The uniqueness of our approach to these issues is that the academic inquiry has been rooted in the interdisciplinary tradition of the liberal arts.
Secondly, the on-campus farm enriches ideas with experience. A student-based Farm Crew helps run the farm on a daily basis, from managing livestock and pastures to determining annual seed orders for the market garden operation.
Third is the College dining experience. The campus dining hall works to purchase local foods, sponsors a composting operation and a series of fun, educational events aimed at sustainability. Additionally, a food committee – consisting of food service management and chefs as well as GMC students, faculty and staff – provides a public, biweekly meeting to discuss campus food issues.
Lastly, the College hosts a series of theme-based agricultural events each year for the campus and regional communities. Outside speakers are invited to present on challenging issues facing farmers in the region, and a panel of farmers is selected to respond to each of the presentations, heightening community representation and participation, and always fostering strong audience interaction. All students are invited and encouraged to join in the activities of the Farm and Food Project.