UMass Student Farm

The UMass Student Farming Enterprise is a student-led initiative that manages 14 acres of land and grows 35 different crops using ecologically sound practices. They supply UMass Dining with over 46 tons of ultra local, fresh, and organic vegetables every year- grown for students, by students. Working with the Student Farm helps UMass Dining meet many sustainability goals, such as decreasing food miles, reducing food waste, and increasing local and sustainable menu items. UMass Dining tries to purchase “imperfect” produce from the Student Farm to prevent their carefully grown veggies from going to waste. Produce from the Student Farm is featured in all four Dining Commons, at the weekly Student Farmers’ Market on Goodell Lawn, and at the new Student Farm Stand in Harvest Market. 

The Student Farm provides students with the opportunity to manage and operate a small, efficient organic vegetable farm for a full year. Student Farmers study organic agriculture and learn how to operate a streamlined, sustainable business in the classroom while directly applying what they learn to their work in the fields. As Student Farmer from UMass Amherst Rebekah Kalver explained, “It’s the only program here that you can get real hands-on experience running a farm.” Students from any of the Five Colleges or from any major can work for the Student Farm, but many students that join the program study agriculture and want to become farmers. Trevor Brown, a Student Farmer majoring in Sustainable Food and Farming, wants to have a farm in the future and “what better way to learn how than doing this?” All of the Student Farmers speak enthusiastically about their experience and agree that the program has changed them after just one year of participation.  Picture Student Farmer Jackie Montminy planting seedlings at the Agricultural Learning Center. 
Picture Keith Zorn, Rebekah Klaver, and Hannah Farnham harvesting carrots. Picture A beautiful salad served in Berkshire Dining Commons made with Student Farm carrots. 

The Student Farming Enterprise empowers students to take initiative, develop their leadership skills, work collaboratively to make business decisions, and learn from their mistakes. For Jacqueline Montminy, a Student Farmer and a Junior at UMass, “the best thing about it is that it’s a whole new group of people and even though it has been running for over a decade we start fresh every year. Our decisions are what run the program.” The Student Farmers work hard to make their learning environment collaborative fun and create a close-knit community to support each other.   

Picture A student picking up their Student Farm share from the Student Farmers’ Market. However, their commitment to community reaches far beyond their fields. “Good food isn’t a guarantee,” Student Farmer Rebekah Klaver points out. Many people in our local community are food insecure, and businesses like the Student Farming Enterprise make quality organic food more accessible. Student Farmer Amanda Skriloff finds purpose in “providing something that everybody needs. Everybody needs food to survive and being part of that system is really meaningful.” The Student Farm and similar organizations that empower young farmers to provide sustainable, affordable, healthy food for our communities is imperative to the future of our environment, our food system, and generations to come.  The Student Farmers all send their thanks to their supporters in the community and everyone who has bought something they have grown. They urge anyone reading this to “Get your hands dirty- it will really change how you think about food and where it is coming from.” 

Pictured from left to right: Amanda Brown, Nicole Burton, Hannah Logan, Jackie Montminy, Rebekah Klaver, Caroline Holladay, Keith Zorn, Ben Jankowski, Liam Dillon, Hannah Farnham, Julia Opel, and Matt Yee. 

A huge thanks to all of the Student Farmers for their valuable partnership with UMass Dining and for everything they do to make our campus community a better place!  
Interested in becoming a Student Farmer? 
The application for the 2018 UMass Student Farm Program is now open until November 1st! To apply, or for more information, click here
Photo Credits: Keith Toffling.