Farm Fellowship and the Ursinus Campus Farm

An opportunity to gain first-hand experience with agriculture, sustainability, and food management

Jenna Severa

jesevera@ursinus.edu

Next to Hunsberger Woods, just down 9th avenue, the Ursinus Campus Farm awaits the arrival of the next group of Farm Fellows. This hidden gem provides Ursinus students with locally grown produce and an opportunity to gain first-hand experience with agriculture, sustainability, and food management. The Farm Fellowship, which is one of the Sustainability Fellow positions at Ursinus, is a one-credit course that gives students a chance to gain presentation and communication skills, work on team building experience, develop project management skills and grow as leaders.

Kate Keppen, Director of the UC Office of Sustainability, said “the Campus Farm is a special place on campus as it contains within its boundaries a lot of thinking, learning, and action. At the farm, Farm Fellows are able to see and partake in the actual growing of our food. We investigate soil conditions and the resources needed to grow crops. The Fellows are then able to see the business side of food production as we work with Dining Services and hold Farm Markets over the summer.”

The Farm Fellowship application is closed for 2019, but those interested in agriculture, food systems and agroecology should consider this amazing opportunity for 2020. A Farm Fellow’s job is to plan and implement a growing season at the farm. This calls for a knowledge of gardening or farming, creative problem solving and a desire to work on learning more about science and sustainability. Student Fellows continue their hands on education in the summer after starting in the spring. Keppen said, the “Farm Fellowship is a hands-on learning experience, we do spend time in a class setting exploring sustainability and agricultural topics, but the summertime experience of a Farm Fellowship at Ursinus is pretty unique.”

Sophomore Jess Greenburg, a former Farm Fellow, was one of the lucky students to stay on campus over the break to further sustainability goals and maintain the Campus Farm. She said, “being a Farm Fellow has been an incredibly fulfilling experience for me. I’m super grateful to have had the opportunity to not only learn how to manage a farm, but to grow food for the campus and share the outdoors with all of our fantastic volunteers.”

Blueberries and cucumbers were two popular produce items produced by the farm this past summer. Throughout the growing season, Fellows could be found growing, prepping, and washing produce to prepare it for sale at the market. Some even got to sample the delicious blueberries right off the bush. Greenburg said, “the feeling of eating your own fresh blueberries and knowing that you contributed to the health of the planet is amazing.”

The Campus Farm also offers volunteer opportunities throughout the year. A major event for the farm and Fellows is the annual Fall Harvest Fest. Face painting, henna, and palm readings were the features of this year’s event. “There are so many staff, faculty, and students that I never would have met without the campus farm,” Greenburg said.

In addition to the Farm Fellow, Sustainability Fellows work in many different areas at Ursinus. The bikeshare fellow runs the Ursinus bikeshare program. The energy fellow observes and analyzes our campus’ energy consumption. The sustainable food fellow works to promote sustainable eating on campus. UC Green network coordinator is the sustainability representative to the campus and works to develop a culture of sustainability. Finally, the waste diversion fellow works on recycling, municipal solid waste, and composting on campus. Keppen said, “anyone that is interested in learning more about the Campus Farm or Sustainability Fellows can feel free to email me at kkep pen@ursinus.edu or sustainability@ursinus.edu. We are always looking for volunteers to help out at the farm for a few hours.” This upcoming April, general Sustainability Fellows applications for the 2019-2020 school year will open.