Since the end of World War 2, agriculture has evolved drastically because of new technologies, mechanization, chemical use, specializations and government polices emphasizing maximum production levels. These changes had some positive effects and reduced the number of risks in farming. However there have been significant negative effects as well such as topsoil depletion, groundwater contamination, decline of family farms, neglect of living and working conditions, increased cost of production and disintegration of economic and social conditions in rural communities. This is why sustainable agriculture is important. Over the past two decades, sustainable agriculture has become increasingly accepted in mainstream agriculture. It addresses many environmental and social concerns through innovative and economically sound possibilities for growers, laborers, consumers, and policymakers alike. It has been a positive for the entire food system.
Thanks to the interest in protecting the planet and making green choices, many colleges now offer a variety of studies within the agricultural realm such as environmental science, animal studies, sustainability and more. These colleges have also created outstanding hands-on experiences for their students and community through establishing organic farms, farm to school programs, farm stands, wholesale options, extensive research and much more. Below is our top 40 of the best farm colleges in the United States based on the following criteria:
* Hands-on experiences
* Student involvement
* Community outreach programs
* Workshops, classes, and lectures
* Volunteering opportunities
* Degree plan options
Degree Paths: Agricultural Economics and Business, Agronomy, Animal Science
New Mexico University offers has an irrigation center, integrated pest management program, and windmill technology center. The university offers information regarding drought resources, seed certification, and weed information. It also informs the community about Asian Medicinal Herbs, commercial on-farm food safety practices and has a Chile Pepper Institute.
Degree Paths: Agribusiness and Applied Economics, Agricultural Business, Agricultural Communication, Agricultural Systems Management
The Farm Management program at Ohio State University is overseen by Barry Ward, Assistant Extension Professor. The program has a number of resources for individuals working in agriculture across the State of Ohio including tools for budgeting, decision making, data, and statistics. Ohio State University Farm to School program offers students from PreK through college with access to nutritious food and teaches them where food comes from, how food choices can affect health, environment awareness and community.
Degree Paths: Environmental Analysis
The Pomona College Organic Farm consists of two parts, the West Farm, and the East Farm. The West Farm has fruit trees, rock-lined plots, chicken coop, outdoor classroom, composting toilet and is home to the Earth Dome. The East Farm has a fruit tree orchard, more than fifty rows of crops, a banana grove, composting system, greenhouse, and beehives. With proper funding, future plans include a covered kitchen area, produce refrigerator, Farm vehicle and much more.
Degree Paths: Environmental Science, Self-Designed Major Leading to the Bachelor of Science
The Antioch Farm is located on campus making it the perfect living, learning laboratory for students. Students have the opportunity to join all aspects of the Farm from planning to eat often through their coursework. Environmental Science majors may take soil samples while psychology students might observe chicken behavior. The Farm first opened in 2011 and included a growing area, pasture for animals, a food forest, and a hoop house. The farm uses growing methods such as organic, ecological and permaculture. Volunteer hours are on Tuesdays from 6 to 8 pm during the months of April through September.
Degree Paths: Environmental Science
Miller Farm has been in operation since the 1970s and was originally located on the Abington Pike, but was moved to an 11-acre area near Suzanne Hoerner Equestrian Center. The program focuses on sustainable living and learning exploration opportunities for students.
Degree Paths: Agribusiness Management, Animal Science, Environmental Resource Management, BioRenewable Systems, Plant Sciences
The College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State University has a farm operation and services program which manages cropland used to grow food for college livestock uses animal manure efficiently and provides land stewardship. Penn State Extension offers a Farm Management program that provides the best information and practices for managing a farming business. Courses and workshops are offered throughout the year.
Degree Paths: Ecology, Wildlife and Environmental Studies, Pre-Vet
Sterling College offers hands-on experience for students interested in learning about ecology, conservation biology, and wildlife management. Previous field experience opportunities included monitoring deer movement patterns, tracking Monarch butterfly migrations, monitoring phenological changes in native plants, tracking water quality of the Arkansas River and independent research projects.
Degree Paths: Agricultural Economics with Agribusiness Emphasis, Entomology, Animal and Veterinary Science, Ecology and Conservation, Environmental Engineering
Kambitsch Farm consists of 180 acres used for field plot research, 15 acres of pasture, and 70 acres are used for no-till/minimum till study and production. The land is not irrigated. There is a dairy farm, feed mill, sheep center, beef center and greenhouse complex.
Degree Paths: Economics/Environmental Studies
The Outback Farm is a program run by Associated Students and Fairhaven College on a 5-acre farm and wetland restoration site. Its purpose is to provide numerous opportunities for students to discover, develop and implement sustainable land use methods. Some of these opportunities include personal and collaborative events, habitat restoration projects, organic gardening, green building, academic partnerships, independent studies, workshops, lectures, and classes. The farm gives students job-related skills, a sense of community and networking opportunities.
Degree Paths: Pre-Veterinary Medicine, Agribusiness Management, Agricultural Technology and Systems Management, Agricultural, and Natural Resources Biotechnology
The Michigan State University Organic Farm offers a nine-month organic farming intensive program. Students manage the 15 acres certified organic and solar greenhouse space. The farm houses pigs, cattle, laying hens and honey bees. Students learn farm skills through engaging in daily farm operations, workshops, lectures, reading and assignments. The farm sells its produce every Thursday at its farm stand. It provides produce for the Community Supported Agriculture program, dining halls and wholesale. The farm hosts a Hoophouse Gala Fundraiser to raise money for scholarships for future, inspiring organic farmers. Volunteering opportunities and farm tours are available.
Degree Paths: Environmental Studies
The organic farm at Evergreen State College is connected to the main campus by two trails through the campus forest. It is a working, small-scale organic farm that is utilized as a learning laboratory focusing on small-scale organic agriculture. It produces fruit, vegetables, and sheep. Grown produce is sold through the Farm stand which is open on Thursdays from 3 to pm. Five acres of the developed land is home to a Farmhouse built by students in the 1970s, fields of orchards, greenhouses, a closed tunnel composting facility and a number of miscellaneous outbuildings. Interns work during the growing season. Research tests new crops and crop variations. There are three gardens: Community Gardens, Demeter’s Gardens, and the Medicinal Herb Garden.
Degree Paths: Agricultural and Resource Economics, Animal Science, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Crop Science
North Carolina State University, Growing Small Farms program offers various workshops. Some of these include heirloom tomato workshop, pollinator garden tour, managing land for non-game wildlife and conserving working lands.
Degree Paths: Agribusiness Management, Farm, and Ranch Management
The Arthur H. Post Research Farm is 254 acres of land dedicated to the purpose of developing new wheat and barley varieties, cropping systems research, increasing seeds through Foundation seed and studies on how to control weeds in small grains. There is a strong focus on plant breeding programs.
Degree Paths: Earth and Oceanographic Science, Environmental Studies
The Bowdoin Organic Garden was created by students in 2005 and is managed by the College’s Dining Service. It is cared for by a year-round garden manager, part-time personnel, students, and volunteers. The farm grows vegetables, fruit and flowers which are used in the dining halls, research, agricultural experiences and events for the community. Sustainable landscaping, rainwater collection and composting are all used by the farm.
Degree Paths: Agribusiness, Animal Science, Environmental Science, Equine Management
The Roth Center for Sustainable Agriculture provides a living laboratory for students majoring in sustainable agriculture. The center focuses on long-term profitability, good stewardship of environmental resources and high quality of life for the farmer and community. Space is used for lab projects, class demonstrations, and faculty research. Students may gain experience through the school year and summer employment positions. The Roth Center places a focus on hands-on demonstration of farm life from 1890 to 1910. During this time, the farming industry pursued many methods to increase profitability and to provide for the needs of the community.
Degree Paths: Agricultural Education, Agricultural Technology and Production Management, Animal Science
Washington State University Farms collaborates with communities and individuals around Washington to nurture a profitable farming system, promote land and water stewardship and to provide healthy food. The farms primary goals include building public support for agriculture, preserving Washington farmland for food and fiber production, helping farmers adopt sustainable practices and unifying the farmer and consumer in developing local markets for community food access.
Degree Paths: Animal Science, Environmental Science, Environmental Sustainability, Equestrian Studies
Fulton Farm of Wilson College is an environmental educational working farm nestled on 50 acres of gardens. The farm does not use chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. The farms goals include using minimal amounts of non-renewable resources, minimizing pollution of soil, water, and air, promoting biodiversity, ensuring farmworker safety and healthy and providing healthy locally grown food for the campus and community. The farm offers classes, internships, work-study jobs, volunteering opportunities. Some programs include Gardening for Fitness, Agroecology and Permaculture Design.
Degree Paths: Adventure-Based Environmental Education, Wilderness Leadership, Earth Science, Environmental Education, Environmental Studies
Jenner Farm is a 20 acres of rich soils, towering cottonwood and mesquite trees that provide hands-on curriculum for students of Prescott University. Students in the Agroecology program are able to apply ecological principles to agricultural production. Studies are spread out through the entire growing season from February to October. One key focus is the Natural Systems Agriculture which is a perennial agriculture system created to mimic the form and purpose of natural plant communities in particular ecosystems. Classes emphasize the importance of regionally adapted crops, maintaining genetic diversity, maintaining soil fertility and water conservation.
Degree Paths: Environmental Studies, Earth Sciences
Dartmouth College Organic Farms is operated by students and provides the community with independent research, student projects and hands on experiences for learning sustainable food practices and energy systems. These hands-on experiences provide students to work with the natural world and to consider the serious impact humans have had. Beginners are welcomed with special work-days and potluck dinners.
Degree Paths: Environmental Studies
George Jones Memorial Farm and Nature Preserve is 70 acres of vibrant space utilized for organic food, environmental restoration and social justice by the students and community of Northeast Ohio. The techniques used in farming help build soil and create healthier nutritious food. The farm has perennial systems, high tunnel hoop houses, rotational systems, fruit and nut cultivation, and sugar maple production. The Natural Preserve can be explored through interpretive trails by hiking, snowshoeing, skiing and horseback riding. The trails go through wetlands, forests, prairies, vernal pools, ddand ponds. There are ample possibilities for animal tracking, bird watching, and native plant appreciation. The college has installed a number of research ponds to comprehend better the wetland restoration for Ohio ecosystems.
Degree Paths: Agribusiness, Animal Behavior, Animal and Nutritional Science, Applied Animal Science
The University of New Hampshire establishes a Farm to School program in 2003 by introducing local apples and cider to K-12 students. The program gave way to the Get Smart Eat Local 10 District Project, which is a collaboration between school districts and wholesale farms in the seacoast region to introduce new local foods to schools. The university has an Organic Dairy Research Farm, which consists of 300 acres of woodlands, crops, forage production, and pastures. It is managed as an integrated agro-ecosystem. The Kingman Farm of the University of New Hampshire serves as a research facility. Current projects include horticultural and agronomic crop research, management of wildlife, and the renovation effort of oysters in the Great Bay
Degree Paths: Agricultural Business, Agricultural Communication, Agricultural Engineering, Agriculture, Agronomy, Crop Science
The 800-acre Paul L. Byrne Agricultural Teaching and Research Center allows students to put classroom concepts to practice. The farm benefits not only thousands of students, but farmers and ranchers benefit from the research conducted on the farm. The farm provides school tours for grade school field trips. The farm is often the site for many professional seminars, Future Farmers of America and 4-H field days. Approximately, 35 to 40 students work part time to help with farm operations. The farm has an NWS weather station which can be accessed through Western Region Climate Center.
Degree Paths: Animal Science, Environmental Science
Berry College currently has 14 student operated enterprises which include AgriEducation, Berry Bees, Blue Hen Eggs, Genetics, Jersey Milk, Martha’s Herbs and Season’s Harvest. AgriEducation was designed to educate the Berry community, the Rome community and people visiting the college about agriculture by providing tours of the Berry Dairy farm and explore wildlife commonly found in the backyard. The Angus Beef program allows students to raise cattle by hand without the use of hormone or steroids. The Berry Bees program began in January 2014 with ten hives. To ensure product purity, students avoid the use of pesticides and chemicals. The Blue Hen program offers health, local option for fresh eggs to the community. The hens live in a movable house known as the “chicken tractor”. Every three to four days, they are moved to fresh pasture. Their droppings help increase the productivity of the trees and land. Genetics focuses on developing an internationally recognized herd of registered Jersey cattle. Martha’s Herbs is the school’s horticultural based business. Season’s Harvest’s intention is to provide the community and surrounding areas with naturally-grown produce throughout the year. Only natural methods are used against pests. The program strives to provide an educational opportunity while practicing sustainable gardening practice with the purpose of providing healthy, local produce and reducing the carbon footprint.
Degree Paths: Agriculture and Natural Resources
The Berea College Farm is one of the most diverse educational farms available to students in the United States. The farm is made up of 500 acres of pastures, cropland, gardens, woodlots and ponds. The farm serves as an educational laboratory for students enrolled in the Agriculture and Natural Resources program as well as a working model of sustainable agriculture. Students have a wide range of opportunities including the production of beef, cattle, hogs, chicken, eggs, goats, fish, honey bees, grains, pulses, vegetables, fruits, and herbs. These are all sold locally. Daily farm operations are completed by students under the supervision and support of experienced staff. Student roles include enterprise development, management, production, equipment maintenance, marketing and financial planning. The farm employs most Agriculture and Natural Resource majors. During their first year, students are required to participate in all areas of farm operations. During the second year, students are given freedom to focus on any area of interest.
Degree Paths: Environmental Studies, Environmental Engineering
In 2003, a group of students transformed a piece of Farnam Memorial Gardens into an agricultural space which is now a lush productive educational farm that consists of dozens of kinds of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers as well as free range laying hens and honey bees. Students, staff, and New Haven community visit the Yale Farm during the year to study the link between land and food. The farm is used by several departments including Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Mechanical Engineering Women’s Studies and Sexuality Studies. The farm created the Seed to Salad program which brings classes to New Haven public schools. The program teaches ecology, science and food production. During the summer, students can participate in the Lazarus Summer Internship, which includes lessons about ecology, economy and social issues revolving around food and agriculture.
Degree Paths: Environment and Sustainability
The SAP Farm Land Lab at the University of Minnesota Duluth formed in 2009 and represents a solutions-oriented approach in modeling a working 15 acre organic farm, renewable energy (via a farm-scale wind turbine), climate resilient water systems, and biodiversity enhancement and conservation. Community-based partnerships enrich the farm, including with the Intertribal Agriculture Council, the Northeast Beekeepers Association, the Duluth Public School System, and the Duluth Community Garden Program.
The UMD Dining Services purchases 90% of the produce grown for use on campus. In addition to the SAP Farm, UMD hosts several green programs including the Student Sustainability Coalition, a green dorn, green office certification, Net Impact, a green revolving fund, Bike to Campus and Sustainability Inspiration Awards.
Degree Paths: Animal Science, Animal Science and Management, International Agricultural Development
The Student Farm program at UC Davis centers around three principles which are sustainable agriculture principles and practices focus on in-field, experimental learning and encouraging students to take initiative, be creative and to explore. Formal courses, internships, and research projects are available to students. Courses include an introduction to sustainable agriculture, organic crop production practices and seminars on alternatives in agriculture. A preparatory for field work in agriculture and environmental education program is available for students during the winter and spring quarter.
Degree Paths: Climate Change and Energy, Environmental Law and Politics, Farming, and Food Systems
College of Atlantic has two farms: Peggy Rockefeller Farms, which is the largest remaining contiguous area of pasture on Mount Desert Island and Beech Hill Farm which is located in the Town of Mount Desert at an elevation of 300 feet on a ridge of deep glacial top soils. The Rockefeller Farms has three barns and several animal shelters. The farm has solar panels for electricity, fruit trees, raspberries, an establish vegetable garden and a new well. With the help of a seed grant, students are pursuing their plans for rotating grazing cattle, sheep and chickens. Beech Hill Farm’s unique quality is the fertile soil that is partly due to intensive poultry farming from the mid-1900s.
Degree Paths: Agricultural Business, Agricultural Science, Agriculture and Natural Resources
Butte College Farm and Wildlife Refuge is located on 926 acres provides students of the Agriculture and Natural Resources program with hands-on opportunities.S The farm is 85 acres and produces hay, oat, wheat, alfalfa, sudan grassy hay, cool season vegetables, melons, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, vetch, bell bean. It also has 120 trees which yield apples and peaches. There is a six-acre vineyard that has three different red wine grapes. The Wildlife Refuge consists of 320 acres of pine woodland, 220 acres of grassland, 50 acres of wetlands and two miles of creek. It is home to over 150 types of birds, 220 plant species, and a number of animals including black-tailed deer, beaver, river otters, coyotes, foxes, ring-tailed cats, possum, raccoons, coyotes and even an occasional mountain lion or bear.
Degree Paths: Agricultural Studies and Rural Life
The Hampshire College Farm is a working farm which provides a thriving educational center for the agricultural programs, local community, and school groups. The farm is committed to educate future generations about healthy, ethical food production and consumption. The farm teaches how to farm for the future. Students are able to investigate intellectual, political and scientific issues involving the food production industry as well as many topics from animal behavior to agriculture. Students have several internship and work-study opportunities to choose from. The college welcomes visitors and volunteers to tour the Farm and are encouraged to participate.
Degree Paths: Independent Studies
Deep Springs College maintains a cattle herd and alfalfa farm. Every seven-week academic term, students are given new labor positions that include washing dishes, delivering calves, cooking meals and more. Students must commit to a 20 hour work week. Students must submit a preferred list of assignments for the following term. The college has a garden that grows fruit orchards, maintains a greenhouse, has several compost piles, a chicken coop and nearly one hundred rows of vegetable beds. The ranch is home to 300 head of cattle. The farm grows 152 acres of alfalfa every year using natural and organic farming techniques.
Degree Paths: Agriculture Education
College of the Ozarks farms and workstations include beef farms which are dispersed at seven locations on the main campus, the Friday Farmers Market which began in 2013, a dairy milk farm consisting of 50 to 60 registered Holstein, Jersey and Guernsey cows. The college has a feed mill equipped with a six-ton feed delivery truck, a six-mile hog farm and processing plant. The Horticulture Lab, Orchard, and Garden provide hands-on experience working with horticultural crops and production practices. The Agronomy workstation takes care of planting, fertilizing, controlling pests, weeds and harvesting.
Degree Paths: Agriculture, Environmental Science
Titmus Agricultural Center has a modern barn which is home to sheep, cattle and horses. A greenhouse located at the Center provides students with the opportunity to blend natural science studies and crop studies. The farm also has an organic garden where vegetables and herbs for the campus dining hall are grown. The purpose of the center is to allow students to develop valuable hands-on experience to prepare them for a wide-variety of career opportunities. The college hosts a Show and Grow event which is a farm and earth day celebration. The college invites the local community for day filled with learning and fun. The event includes a livestock show, educational information, activities for children, beekeeping, gardening, landscaping and more. The school began a program called, the Giving Garden which is a collaboration with area community gardens whose purpose is to grow food and donate it to local individuals in need.
Degree Path: Agricultural Sciences, Environmental and Sustainability Sciences, Environmental Engineering
The Dilmun Hill Student Farm at Cornell University intends to provide the school community and surrounding community with the possibilities of experimental learning, group collaboration and research. During the year, several host work parties are held to allow volunteers the opportunity to work in the fields and gain experience in the latest sustainable agricultural practices. The farm has a composting facility which handles 57 waste streams and 6,000 tons of waste yearly. It collects about 850 tons of food scraps and other items for composting from the 11 dining halls on campus. It also disposes 3,300 tons of animal manure and bedding from the School of Veterinary Medicine. 300 tons of plant material and soil from ground houses are also composted.
Degree Paths: Environmental Studies
The Warren Wilson College Farm was founded in 1894 when the Asheville Farm School first opened. It has received numerous awards for producing great tasting farm to table food. It has been named number one college farm in the nation by Best College Reviews. The 275 acre farm is managed by two staff managers with a student work crew of over 100 students. The farm provides all the beef for the dining halls and provides mixed crop and livestock to the community. Pesticides and herbicides are not used.
Degree Paths: Animal Science, Ecological Agriculture, Environmental Studies
The University of Vermont Morgan Horse Farm is home to brood mares, performance prospects and yearlings. The farm offers an intensive hands on experience to students by offering an apprenticeship program. Students are involved in overall farm operations including training, driving and riding the horses. The University also has a Horticulture Research Education Center known as the “Hort Farm”. It is home to more than 700 ornamental trees, shrubs, perennials and fruit trees. The farm is used for agricultural research, class instruction, professional plant organizations and gardening groups.
Degree Paths: Animal Conservation and Care, Environmental Studies, Chart Your Own Course, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Production, Natural Resources Management
Cerridwen Farm is a student run campus farm that combines essential hands-on learning with liberal arts academics. The farm is dedicated to soil health, the wellbeing of the farm animals, the importance of food justice and the needs of the future. It is a small-scale farm that is home to diverse animals It has three vegetable fields on nearly two acres and fifteen acres of pasture. Chores are shared by everyone and decision making skills are openly discussed with crew members. The farm is involved in several college programs including the Sustainable Food Systems undergraduate major, the Masters in Sustainable Food systems program, the Farm and Food project, the 10-week Sustainable Table summer program, several 1-credit farm intensive courses and college events held through out the year including the Welsh Harvest Festival.
Degree Paths: Environmental Science
Merry Lea Sustainable Farm is an educational farm that uses sustainable agricultural methods. It offers an Agroecology Summer Intensive, K-12 programs, Masters in Environmental Education program and public programs serving the community. Volunteering opportunities are available. The farm produces organically grown vegetables and herbs including heirloom varieties, tree fruit, berries, tree nuts, shitake mushrooms, poultry and pigs.
Degree Paths: Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Botany, Earth and Climate Sciences, Ecology and Environmental Sciences
The Roger Farm is used for sustainable agriculture research, extension and teaching projects. Crops grown include silage corn, sweet corn, potatoes, dried beans, small grains and other vegetables. The farm hosts the Penobscot County Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden and the Black Bear Food Guild which is a student run community supported agriculture program.
The Aroostook Farm is the university’s center for agricultural research and development for the potato industry in Maine. The research conducted is essential for Maine because it provides them with a competitive edge in a rapidly changing marketplace.
Our number one farm college is University of Virginia. The college farms are home to many species of trees, animals, plants, vegetables and fruits. The college offers programs for K-12 students, children’s camps, lectures, and tours which raise awareness of environmental issues, gardening and much more.
Highmoor Farm is a 278 acre agricultural and forest experiment station which provides research based information for the apple industry. The farm is also the site of vegetable and small fruit variety trails. Current trials include tomatoes, pumpkins, green peppers, onions, sweet corn and strawberries. Farm researchers are looking for a way to improve the transplant quality of muskmelons and to create new ways to manage corn ear worm on sweet corn as well as powdery mildew on pumpkins. The farm serves as a scouting and nutrient management program for University of Maine Extension.
Degree Paths: Environmental Science, Environmental Thought and Practice
Blandy Experimental Farm has a 172 acre Arboretum which is home to 5000 living trees. There are over 200 types of conifers, 162 kinds of boxwood, cedar of Lebanon alee, an herb garden and the Virginia Native Plant Trail. Public programs are offered to encourage life long learning. Programs include lectures, tours, children’s camps which teach about environmental issues, natural history, gardening and much more. Educational programs are available for K-12 students in the form of hands on exploration and research driven field investigations. Currently, the University is studying pollination, plant-animal interactions, defoliation cause by the destructive gypsy moth and what happens when plants are in-bred.