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Changes proposed to EC's experiential agriculture program

April 14, 2014

Earlham College announced a proposal on Monday to move the Miller Farm experiential agriculture program to south campus where a redesigned farm can be built specifically to support small-scale agriculture and expanded academic opportunities for students. 

The proposal would offer workshops, for-credit courses and residential internships for students with a demonstrated interest in sustainability, environmental studies, food systems and food justice. 

As envisioned, the program would be interwoven in the College’s co-curriculum and curriculum, ensuring greater institutional opportunities for programming through the Center for Integrated Learning, as part of the new Integrated Program in Sustainability. 

“Expanding Earlham’s sustainability programs in this way would support the College’s energies in experiential education and provide new and enriching ways for students to get the most out of their liberal arts education,” says Academic Dean Greg Mahler. “Students across academic disciplines would have the opportunity to be engaged in experiential learning dealing with a range of sustainability-related studies.” 

The existing Miller Farm program has been in operation since the 1970s as a not-for-credit residential student cooperative on land about a mile southeast of campus along Abington Pike. That program was suspended in August 2013 after a review identified safety concerns with several of the farm’s outbuildings.

The future of the existing Miller Farm site is being evaluated. If it is determined that the property should be sold, such a recommendation will be made to the Board of Trustees. 

The new proposed location will be situated west of Abington Pike adjacent to the College’s equestrian center. In examining the new location, the College learned that the site is also situated on the historic Miller Farm property, which covered a significant portion of the present-day back campus and surrounding agricultural land. 

“The new location would permit safer access by students, greater support for physical facilities by the College, and greater community visibility for farm activities,” says Center for Integrated Learning Director Jay Roberts. “This location would also provide for more suitable land for a small production operation and would allow for the program facilities to be entirely purpose-built.” 

Many details concerning the development of the new site would be phased in over time, including the construction of fields, fences, a storage shed and barn. 

Opportunities for a longer-term, separate residential facility on the site are currently under consideration, but would require fundraising. However, housing is already available in close proximity of the planned farm for students interested in that option. 

This program proposal is the result of a series of recommendations that came out of a four-month comprehensive study conducted by the College’s Sustainability Advisory Committee and a sub-committee that included faculty, students and alumni. Those committees’ recommendations largely comprise the final plan recommended by the College’s administration. 

“Both committees should be commended for their dedication to finding a viable solution that could enhance opportunities for students to learn about sustainable agriculture in a more intentional manner than before,” Roberts says. “While many details of the program are still being determined, we now have a strong proposed plan, endorsed by the College, that we anticipate will provide high-impact learning opportunities for generations of students to come.” 

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at (765) 983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.

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