Fields of Learning: The Student Farm Movement in North America
Where will the next generation of farmers come from? What will their farms look like? Fields of Learning: The Student Farm Movement in North America provides a concrete set of answers to these urgent questions, describing how, at a wide range of colleges and universities across the United States and Canada, students, faculty, and staff have joined together to establish on-campus farms as outdoor laboratories for agricultural and cultural education. From one-acre gardens to five-hundred-acre crop and livestock farms, student farms foster hands-on food-system literacy in a world where the shortcomings of input-intensive conventional agriculture have become increasingly apparent. They provide a context in which disciplinary boundaries are bridged, intellectual and manual skills are cultivated together, and abstract ideas about sustainability are put to the test.
Editors Laura Sayre and Sean Clark have assembled a volume of essays written by pioneering educators directly involved in the founding and management of fifteen of the most influential student farms in North America. Arranged chronologically, Fields of Learning illustrates how the student farm movement originated in the nineteenth century, gained ground in the 1970s, and is flourishing today—from the University of California–Davis to Yale University, from Hampshire College to Central Carolina Community College, from the University of Montana to the University of Maine.
Laura Sayre is a postdoctoral researcher with the French National Institute for Agronomic Research and a former senior writer for the Rodale Institute’s NewFarm.org. She lives in Dijon, France.
Sean Clark teaches in and currently chairs the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Berea College in Kentucky. He lives in Berea, Kentucky.
"Fields of Learning makes a strong case for reorganizing the way we produce food in this country, specifically claiming that we put more people on the land—many more, not fewer, as has been the calamitous trend during the 'agribusiness' Reign of Error. And if it hasn’t been obvious to educators that their institutions should actually help fix what Wes Jackson calls the 'eyes-to-acre ratio,' it ought to be now. This is a timely and hopeful book."—Jason Peters, editor of Wendell Berry: Life and Work
"The opportunity for students to spend time learning on campus farms is not just a good idea–-it should be mandatory."--Gary Hirshberg, President & CEO, Stonyfield Farm
"Some books are interesting, but not necessary. Others are necessary, but not interesting. Fields of Learning is a necessary book, and thankfully, interesting."--Wes Jackson, author of Consulting the Genius of the Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture
"With only 1 1/2% of all Americans identifying themselves as farmers, our most urgent national security need is to recruit the coming generation of food producers in both rural and urban landscapes. Sayre and Clark provide an essential service toward meeting this need by showing how the student farm movement is doing more to train the future leaders of North America's food system than the Farm Bureau may be doing. Their lovely and inspiring message should be heard by all."--Gary Paul Nabhan, PhD., "father" of the local food movement, author of Coming Home to Eat and Where Our Food Comes From
"As young, aspiring land stewards flock to the farm-food localization movement, Fields of Learning offers a blueprint for farm-school endeavors. What a wonderful addition to the how-to component that will energize a modern generation of Jeffersonian intellectual agrarians."--Joel Salatin, Polyface Farm
"Fields of Learning helps answer the question, 'Where will future food, and more importantly, future farmers, come from?' It is inspiring and imminently practical, hopeful and instructive. The book illustrates the deep roots of the student farm movement, while planting seeds for future harvest. It is timely, relevant, and insightful, and should help restore food production as a multi-disciplinary, intelligent, and highly valued profession."--Jim Riddle, Organic Outreach Coordinator, UMN-Southwest Research and Outreach Center
"The collection of essays. . . explores "the next generation of farmers," offering concrete answers to urgent questions surrounding who will be growing our food -- and how -- in the coming generations."--Prescott College
“Sayre and Clark investigate student farming not only through the lens of sustainability but also as an opportunity for experiential learning, with the capability of teaching valuable lessons about the global market, biology, engineering , anthropology, and more.” --Hampshire College
“Laura Sayre and Sean Clark compiled essays from staff on 15 farms to illustrate the trials, tribulations and sheer joys of establishing and maintaining such enterprises.” --USA Today
"This book not only showcases successful undergraduate farm experiences, but alos provides an inventory of all US and Canadian student farm projects, including their age, size, and production foci. . . . Highly recommended."--CHOICE
"An excellent book, useful for anyone interested in the past, or the future, of the student farm movement."--Journal of Agricultural & Food Information