A Greeting from the Farm & Food
Food and farming have always been central to our existence, but it’s only been in the last few decades that we mistakenly decided to pretend that we could leave it all up to someone else. The GMC Farm & Food Project is all about reclaiming what matters about nature, nurture, and nutrition – by way of learning why it matters. read more...
A Greeting from the Farm Manager
I think you would be hard pressed to find another liberal arts college at which students are learning how to drive oxen, organically grow thirty different kinds of fruits and vegetables, raise heritage breeds of livestock and poultry, harvest hay without tractors or diesel fuel, manage an off-the-grid greenhouse, butcher sheep, pigs and chickens, build high-tensile fencing, shear sheep, and produce their own honey, apple cider, pickles, eggs and milk. read more...
News & Events
11/14/12: Canadian Broadcast Corporation As It Happens
11/11/12: Boston Globe Lou the ox is quietly euthanized at Vt. college
The veterinarian came before dawn, and Lou the ox was quietly euthanized.
The decision by the small liberal arts college in Vermont in early October to slaughter its beloved pair of oxen and serve their meat in the campus dining hall had sparked worldwide outrage.
The euthanasia of Lou, who was suffering from an injury, was performed on the campus farm by a large-animal veterinarian between midnight and daybreak Sunday, according to Philip Ackerman-Leist, director of the farm and food project at Green Mountain College, in Poultney, near the border with New York State.
“It was hard for him to get around,” Ackerman-Leist said, adding that with winter approaching things would only get worse. “We wouldn’t want to see him suffer anymore.” more...
11/11/12: NY Times A Casualty Amid Battle to Save College Oxen
A working ox named Lou, who in recent weeks became arguably his species’ most prominent representative, died on Sunday in pastoral Vermont, euthanized after his impending slaughter stirred a face-off between sustainable farmers in the state and animal rights advocates from around the world. more...
11/10/12: USA Today Vt. college's oxen-slaughter plan riles activists
Bill and Lou have plied the fields of Green Mountain College's farm in Vermont for most of their lives — about 10 years.
Students have learned to drive the oxen team for haying and tilling, creating bonds with the giant animals. They're a campus fixture. But a leg injury to Lou this summer turned the now 11-year-old animals into retirees — and a cause celebre among animal rights activists. more...
10/31/12: College Statement regarding Bill and Lou from President Paul J. Fonteyn to the GMC Community
As you know, Green Mountain College has become the focus of widespread attention regarding our decision to slaughter our ten-year old team of oxen. I stand by the decision our community arrived at through a process that insured that all members had the opportunity to express their opinions.
I also compliment faculty, staff and students who, whether they personally agreed with the final decision or not, have demonstrated extraordinary civility in their interactions with each other, and with external individuals and organizations. Some of these external groups are attempting to use Bill and Lou as mascots for their own extremist agendas. I am appalled by the abusive nature of some of the communications you have been receiving—if you are concerned about personal threats please notify the Office of Student Affairs.
Initially we decided to slaughter Bill and Lou by the end of this month. However, we will not be able to meet this timetable because regional slaughterhouses have been inundated with hostile and threatening emails and phone calls from extremist groups bent on interfering with the processing. These are mostly small, family-operated Vermont businesses that provide local meat for local consumers. This is a busy time of year for them, and many have expressed fears that their operations might be shut down by protesters if they accept the oxen for processing.
We have decided to continue to care for the oxen until a date with a reputable USDA approved slaughterhouse can be obtained. In the meantime, Lou and Bill will not be sent to a sanctuary but will continue to stay with us in familiar surroundings. Eventually the animals will be processed as planned.
Green Mountain College has many allies in its determination to exercise its independent will and support sustainable agriculture in Vermont. Below is a statement made by Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, Chuck Ross.
As always, I’m available for discussion with any member of the community who has questions or concerns.
Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, Chuck Ross, has issued the following statement regarding Green Mountain College’s intention to slaughter two oxen:
A sustainable food system is a complicated web. It involves many participants. The slaughter of animals by those able and interested in eating meat has been part of the human experience since the beginning of recorded history. Doing so in a humane fashion is standard practice today, and subject to regulatory oversight.
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets respects and supports the people involved in the food system. We applaud the efforts of those working towards community-supported, sustainable, diversified agriculture.
Recently, there has been much attention directed towards a decision made by Green Mountain College to slaughter two oxen raised on their campus farm. This decision has drawn interest on a national level. Here in Vermont, however, it is not uncommon for people to raise their own animals for meat, or join a meat-CSA. Our culture is closely tied to the food system.
Green Mountain College has reached their decision after careful contemplation and input from the campus community. They have raised these animals humanely, and have made a responsible choice. We encourage others to respect their decision, even if their own personal philosophy includes abstaining from eating meat.
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets will not tolerate the inhumane treatment of animals and addresses reported incidents with its full regulatory authority. This situation, however, does not constitute inhumane treatment. Instead, it is the progression of two animals from one stage of the food system into the next.
10/28/12: NY Times Oxen’s Fate Is Embattled as the Abattoir Awaits
Just past the village here is the farm at Green Mountain College, where chickens roam free and solar panels heat a greenhouse. The idea of sustainability runs so deep that instead of machines fueled by diesel, a pair of working oxen have tilled the fields for the better part of a decade, a rare evocation of a New England agricultural tradition. more...
10/12/12: College Statement regarding Bill and Lou
At Cerridwen Farm, Green Mountain College’s working farm operation, we seek to teach and model small-scale farm production that is ecologically, economically and socially sustainable. We work to maintain high ethical standards for treatment of the land, people and animals. We have draft animals on the farm because they do important work which would otherwise be performed by equipment that consumes diesel fuel. We are currently engaged in many promising projects to demonstrate how small family farms, managed sustainably, can survive and thrive in an agricultural landscape dominated by industrial farms.
Bill and Lou came to us nearly ten years ago as malnourished and neglected animals. At GMC they received considerate and humane care.
This was a decision many months in the making, with members of our community carefully weighing alternatives. On complex ethical matters, thoughtful and well-informed people may reasonably disagree. Here is a bit of background on the complexities and the decision-making process:
This past year, Lou sustained a recurring injury to his left rear hock that made it difficult for him to work. After attempting several remedies and giving him a prolonged rest without any improvement, it was the professional opinion of the farm staff and consulting veterinarians that he was no longer capable of working. Farm staff searched for a replacement animal to pair with Bill, but single oxen are difficult to find and it is uncertain that Bill would accept a new teammate.
Our Farm Crew works with the farm managers to implement plans for overall livestock management, including sale and slaughter decisions. In particularly complex situations, College faculty experts in philosophy, policy, ethics and animal husbandry are consulted, and students from a variety of disciplines are often involved in these discussions. Many of the decisions about livestock on the college farm are rooted in classroom and campus-wide dialogue, representing a variety of perspectives.
Our process was open and transparent. We delayed making any decision over the summer and held an open community forum on October 4 to discuss the ethics of sending draft animals to slaughter, and Bill and Lou’s case specifically. Our commitment to providing these challenging discussions within the college community is all too rare in higher education.
While many of our students are vegan or vegetarian, many also eat meat, and we strive to meet the dietary preferences of all students. Bill and Lou, when processed for meat, will yield over one ton of beef. If this meat doesn’t come from our animals, it likely will come from a factory farm setting which carries with it a significant amount of ecological impact. For example, the American agricultural system uses approximately 5 million gallons of water to produce the same amount of beef (not to mention greenhouse gas production, soil erosion, and water pollution).
Those who know Lou and Bill best—our farm staff and students—are uncomfortable with the potential ramifications of sending the animals to a sanctuary. Bill and Lou are large animals, weighing over a ton. A transition to a new setting will be difficult for them, and only postpones the fact that someone else, in the not-too-distant future, will need to decide that it is kinder to kill them than to have them continue in increasing discomfort. If sent to a sanctuary, Bill and Lou would continue to consume resources at a significant rate. As a sustainable farm, we can’t just consider the responsible stewardship of the resources within our boundaries, but of all the earth's resources.
12/15/10: Cerridwen Farm set to Receive $93,000 Grant
Green Mountain College’s Farm & Food Project has received a $93,000 grant from the Yavanna Foundation. The funding will be used to further develop the College’s fossil-free agriculture initiatives, including the hiring of a full-time post-doctoral researcher for two years and the associated purchase of research equipment. Read more.
9/10/10: Students Harvest Tomatoes for Grow-A-Row
On September 10, 14 GMC students partnered with Jane Nicklaw, the “tomato lady” of Castleton, to harvest 670 pounds of tomatoes from her garden for the Grow-a-Row program. Read more.
9/20/10: Support from Duke Energy and Pierson Foundation Aids in Kitchen Revamp
Green Mountain College has received a $12,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation which will be matched by funding from the Pierson Family Foundation to renovate kitchen facilities at the College's Solar Harvest Center. The Solar Harvest Center (SHC), a farmhouse next to the College's Cerridwen farm, was acquired by GMC in 2008. Read more.
11/17/09: Windham Grant Helps GMC Study New Agricultural Methods
While greenhouses lengthen the production season for vegetable farms, heating these structures with gas-fired or electric air burners is expensive and energy intensive. Research at Green Mountain College, funded by a $15,000 grant from Vermont's Windham Foundation, will explore new ways to sustainably grow vegetables by integrating a solar-powered hot water system in "high tunnel" greenhouses. The three-year study may reveal inexpensive ways to produce higher yields while consuming less energy. Read more.
P.S. – If you’re interested, here are a few more things you should know about us: