Journal ranks Clemson’s Student Organic Farm among nation’s best university farms
CLEMSON — Clemson University’s Student Organic Farm ranks among the best college farms in the nation, according to the journal Best College Reviews.
The journal ranks Clemson’s farm ninth out the nation’s top 20 university farms, above those at Yale University, Duke University, the University of New Hampshire and others.
“The farm’s high ranking is due to the excellence of the farm staff and our students,” said Geoff Zehnder, entomology professor and Clemson Sustainable Agriculture Program director. “We strive for the farm to be a place where we can demonstrate farming systems and strategies that are economically, ecologically and socially sustainable, and where we can spark the imaginations of the next generation of farmers.”
Farms were ranked based on size, campus and community integration, sustainability, student use and use in teaching.
The journal notes the interdisciplinary nature of the farm’s teaching and research; widespread student involvement from farm labor to business and marketing; experiential learning opportunities; and focus on producing high value vegetables, small fruit, herbs and cut flowers sold through the 125-member Campus Supported Agriculture Market Program.
“The high ranking and excellence of our Student Organic Farm is another example showing Clemson’s commitment to innovative teaching, research and extension in agricultural sciences and is a tribute to the great work being accomplished by Geoff, his staff and the students in our agricultural sciences programs,” said Pat Zungoli, chair of Clemson’s agricultural and environmental sciences department.
The Student Organic Farm is managed by Shawn Jadrnicek, a former farmer and Clemson Extension agent and an expert in the application of sustainable principles to farm design and operation.
Clemson’s Student Organic Farm began as a small market garden in 2001 in a section of the Clemson campus with a deep agricultural heritage. The farm was certified organic in 2005 and now encompasses 15 acres dedicated to agricultural research, teaching and public outreach programs.
The farm is noted for its role researching profitable, practical, sustainable farming techniques and imparting the results of its research to farmers and students across the Southeast.
Lee Meyer, Extension professor in the University of Kentucky’s agricultural economics department, praised the farm for showing farmers that sustainable farming systems are profitable and practical.
Danny Howard, Greenville County Extension agent, said, “Organic producers who are having challenges with weed, disease and insect control can learn how to solve these problems through the Student Organic Farm’s outreach.”