America has been losing farmers for decades thanks to the tractor, fertilizer, and other hallmarks of industrial food production. But just as interest in farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture (CSA) has grown in recent years, so too has student interest in local, organic agriculture. Many young people around the country are taking a second look at farm life. This year, almost 1,400 farms turned to young interns for help, almost three times as many as two years ago.
But the movement isn’t just taking place in remote pastures during summer months. Colleges such as Oberlin, Stanford, and many others have started their own on-campus farms and gardens where student volunteers can learn about small-scale agriculture. Some colleges offer course credit for work done on the farm and at least one, Washington State, offers an undergrad degree in Organic Agriculture.
So what do the students do with their harvest? The College of the Atlantic serves its student-raised produce in dining halls. And Bon Appetit Management Co., which provides food services for many campuses, offers a guide for student farmers interested in selling their produce to their school’s food-service provider.