Green Mountain College, VT Farm and Food Project

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Green Mountain College, VT, US

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Type: Program

Status: Ongoing

Source File:



A Greeting from the Farm & Food Project Director...

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. How we as individuals relate to food is usually a pretty good indicator of how we relate to the environment, our society, other cultures, and other animals. How we relate to food and agriculture as a community is indicative of the interests and priorities of that community.

GMC takes farming and food issues seriously. I’m proud to work in a college that has a working farm as a centerpiece of campus life and that doesn’t shy away from the complexity of issues surrounding how we sustain ourselves, our environment, and our culture. “Sustainability” is a word our culture struggles with, but when you get to the root of it all – sustenance – then it becomes much less abstract and academic…and as a result, much more serious.

The GMC Farm & Food Project is our way of ensuring that the centrality of food permeates virtually every aspect of our campus. The college farm makes it all real and gives everyone a chance to experience the challenges of farming. The sustainable purchasing initiatives in our dining hall challenge all of us to find ways to build a more sustainable campus food system. Our Sustainable Agriculture & Food Production concentration in the ES program enables students to tackle the complexities of what happens on the farm and in the dining hall with a hands-on, interdisciplinary approach. And our esteemed Family Farm Forum speaker series brings in several well-known experts on food and farming each semester, attracting a diverse audience of students, farmers, academics, and consumers – guaranteeing a dynamic evening of conversation, often kicked off by a special meal in the dining hall.

We’re serious about what we’re doing here, but we know how to have fun doing it, too. If you want to talk more about it, come on down to college farm or come visit me while I’m doing chores on my own farm at home. There’s still plenty for all of us to learn!
Philip Ackerman-Leist
Director of GMC Farm & Food Project
Associate Professor of Environmental Studies


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 (soon) milk. At GMC, we are not just discussing statistics about soil erosion, global hunger and malnutrition, agricultural pollutants in our drinking water, or climate change—all linked to the most essential of human activities, farming. Rather, we are developing, teaching, and—most importantly—practicing the solutions to these problems.

The production of food is the most fundamental way in which we relate to the environment. While it may be hard to imagine surviving without ipods, cars, and air conditioning, it has been done before and could happen again. But humankind must produce food, and the ways in which we produce food can either exacerbate problems such as global warming, water scarcity and energy shortages or it can become part of the solution. Cerridwen Farm is a place where students can take an active role in the current food revolution that is transforming farming and how we view food.

Students are involved in every aspect of Cerridwen farm: they hold down sheep while other students trim hooves; they open beehives and check on honey production; they shut the chickens in at dusk and gather eggs; they plant, cultivate and harvest; they decide which animals stay and which are to be eaten; they butcher chickens and clean them for serving in the dining hall; they sell produce at the farmers market; and they drive oxen as they mow, rake and load hay. In the process, students gain real knowledge and skills that empower them to produce vegetables, meat and eggs—either for themselves or for their communities—while actually sequestering carbon, conserving and producing topsoil, and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

Above all, the farm is a great place to be. Hard work builds muscles and friendships. Well-deserved appetites are rewarded with the freshest and best-tasting food. And dirty hands and calluses are proudly displayed as signs that we are doing our part to grow a better world! I hope you can come join us—for an hour, a day, or even a few years!
Kenneth Mulder
Manager, Cerridwen Farm

The Farm & Food Program is divided into four parts:

  • The Local Food program works to provide wider selections of local foods in the campus dining hall.
  • The Academic program involves integrating experiential learning about agriculture and food production into coursework.
  • The Farm Crew is the student workers who keep the farm going on a daily basis.
  • The Family Farm Forum is an annual series of events bringing together farmers, students, community members and food experts.