Agriculture is at the core of Vermont’s economy, and it is an essential part of the environmental stewardship education at Sterling College. That commitment to sustainable agriculture has resulted in Sterling College and its Rian Fried Center for Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems being ranked as the top college farm in Vermont, and the eleventh college farm nationally, by OnlineCollegePlan.com.
The list was compiled in honor of National Farm to School Month in October, a month dedicated to spreading awareness and celebrating the efforts of the farms at participating schools. Other Vermont schools were well represented in the rankings, with Green Mountain College, Middlebury, and the University of Vermont also included.
OnlineCollegePlan.com lauded the involvement of students, noting that a fourth of all students work on the farm, gaining hands-on experience managing crops, livestock, and woodlands. Sterling College is the only federally-recognized Work College in the Northeast, where all students, regardless of financial need, work on campus and earn money toward their educational expenses. Students have a variety of jobs to choose from on campus, including farm positions such as Livestock Crew, Forestry Crew, Draft Horse Attendant, and Perennial Planting Specialist.
“This ranking is proof that we’re not just studying environmental stewardship and sustainable agriculture on campus: we’re living it every day,” says Dr. Charlotte Rosendahl, Director of the Rian Fried Center for Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems and faculty in Sustainable Agriculture. “Our farm is a living laboratory to shape a future of ecological agricultural systems—small-scale farms that don’t exacerbate climate change, water scarcity, or pollution.”
Sterling College is a leader in sustainable agriculture education, and had one of the first college farms in the country. The farm provides around 20% of the food eaten on campus, leading to accolades from the Real Food Challenge, Sierra magazine, and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) for Sterling College’s sustainable college dining. The College is the top college in the United States that serves food on campus that is local, sustainable, humane, and fair-trade.
This ranking contributes to a remarkable few months in which Sterling College has been included by Sierra magazine in the top 11% of its “America’s Coolest Schools” list, a ranking of the nation’s greenest colleges and universities; was a top performer in the 2016 Sustainable Campus Index by AASHE; and was cited by The Princeton Review as one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges.