Welcome Student Farmers!

May 12, 2005: At the recent W.K. Kellogg Food and Society Networking Conference, we were reminded of a quote that has been attributed to Buckminister Fuller. “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change things, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Since the first editions of New Farm, the people at The Rodale Institute and New Farm have helped create awareness of the importance of college-based farming programs and opportunities as one part of the farming future. The reports from interns have continued to provide important motivation that we are on a good path. New Farm staff listened to students and faculty at more than 50 schools across North America and recognized an opportunity to help facilitate dialog and communication between these various programs. The Farming for Credit Forum unveiled here is an important next step to cultivating the farmers of the future.

Being a part of starting the MSU Student Organic Farm over the past five years has helped me to learn about existing student-run farms, some operating for 20+ years, and more recently about the new student farms just getting started. We’ve benefited from ideas and information shared by a dozen farms that we contacted. With the Farming for Credit Forum, that process should be much easier. Our first farm manager is in the process of writing her thesis about some of the parts of starting our farm and we look forward to sharing it with all of you. There are many other stories that need to be voiced to motivate the growing student-farm movement. Here is a place for those stories to be heard.

Students from student farms are starting to meet on a regional basis – at the Upper Midwest Farming Conference in February of this year – and hopefully at an organic conference in the Northeast and the West in the coming year. If the time is right, there will be a national conference in the years to come. And it can all unfold here.

Do you have a picture or a vision in your head about what you want to do next? Do you have a place to let it happen? Do you have friends to help you? The New Farm is ready to help you find a vision, a place and friends. You are in the right place at the right time – so find something to do that excites you – and have some fun. Learning is doing. Farming is all about doing and being.

Thanks NEW FARM!

John Biernbaum, PhD
MSU Plant and Soil Sciences
Faculty advisor to MSU Student Organic Farm