AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst Student Farm has been ranked No. 5 nationally among best sustainable college-run farms by College Values Online.
The farm is cited for its organic programming, student empowerment and local distribution, which includes two local Big Y Supermarkets. The ranking also notes that student farmers go on to open their own farms and work for sustainable farming organizations.
The UMass Student Farm grows certified organic produce and manages 12 acres, split between the UMass Research and Education Farm in South Deerfield and the new Agricultural Learning Center, just north of campus in Amherst.
Now in its ninth season, the farm couldn’t be successful without the hard work of students, said Amanda Brown, lecturer and program director for the farm.
“The number one thing that drives the success of this program is the students. Students enrolled are with the program for the entire year,” Brown said. “They certainly end up running the farm themselves.”
Brown also noted that the program benefits from community support, which plays a role in educating students. “The campus community, the student body, Earthfoods Café, the local Big Y, the people at the student Farmers Market – everyone is a part of teaching these students.”
The UMass Amherst Student Farm is a program offered by the Stockbridge School of Agriculture. Each year about 20 students participate in the program learning various aspects of farming – from planting to harvesting to product marketing. The student farm serves a variety of clients including the Earthfoods Cafe, UMass Dining Services, Big Y, a 60-member on-campus CSA and the UMass Student Farmers Market.
The College Values Online Top 30 Sustainable College Run Farms was derived from a group of 100 sustainable college farms. The ranking system includes farm size, organic certification, animal production, academics and aspects of distribution.