TRian-Fried he Center is named in honor of Rian Fried, a pioneer in social investment and a patron of the local food movement who passed away in 2013. In the mid 1980’s Rian co-founded Clean Yield, an asset management company that supported the growth of food based companies such Vermont Smoke and Cure and High Mowing Seeds. Fried believed food was the foundation of a healthy economy and invested in socially responsible food businesses. He served on Sterling’s Board of Trustees and encouraged us divest our endowment from fossil fuels. Rian’s legacy lives on through the innovative approaches to agriculture and education fostered at Sterling College in his memory.

The Rian Fried Center has also been generously supported by the Peter Alfond Foundation. The Alfond BarnAlfond Draft Horse Barn, a 1500 square foot timber frame barn, provides safe and comfortable housing for Sterling’s working horses. The Alfond Farrier Shop and Forge, built as part of an educational collaboration with the Yestermorrow Build and Design School, will house a masonry forge capable of burning charcoal processed from wood harvested on campus and a 400 square foot smithy for Farrier Science classes and workshops. 90% of the lumber for this project was harvested from Sterling’s woodlot, extracted using horsepower and milled on site.

Sterling College The FarmSterling Farm

Since the college’s inception, Sterling Farm has been a prominent feature of a Sterling Education. Through academic study, the work program, and day-to-day community interactions, our diversified and ecologically focused farm is a key part of everyday life here at Sterling. The Farm is managed as an integrated system of 5+ acres of garden, 20 + acres of pasture and 390 + acres of forested land. We grow around 60 different annual vegetable crops, as well as perennial small fruits, nuts, apples, and other tree fruits. We raise all our livestock in ways that allow them to express normal behaviors and are modeled on natural systems. Draft Horses are the main power source on the farm for cultivation.


Chef Liz preps turnips in the Sterling KitchenSterling Kitchen

The Sterling Kitchen is part of an intentional and circular food system: it sources upwards of 20% of the food it serves from the Sterling Farm and returns its non-edible excess to the farm for composting. To further its commitments to freshness, place, the local, land-based economy, the Sterling Kitchen prioritizes local sourcing for the balance of its food needs. The Kitchen’s evolving food acquisition practices, mindful use of energy, and close collaboration strengthen our community-based food system, allow us to share mealtimes and savor flavorful food, without compromising our values.

Sterling-ForestSterling Forest

The 393 acre Sterling Forest features both wild and sustainably managed lands that serve many purposes. The forest is a learning laboratory for Sterling’s low-impact and restorative forestry, draft horse, sustainable agriculture, foraging, ecology, natural history, and outdoor education classes. It is a site for recreation, especially during the snowy winter months. And, of course, it is a place where we can enjoy the peace of the North Woods and appreciate the array of trees, breeding and migratory birds, white-tailed deer, and countless other species that reside therein .

The area adjacent to the Sterling Forest is also very sweet to us: Every spring, students collect sap from the maple trees in a 20+ acre section known as the Virginia Russell Sugarbush, transport it to the sugarhouse on campus with help from draft horses, and boil it down into delicious maple syrup that we enjoy throughout the year.

All work in the Sterling Forest is guided by a forest management plan that is grounded in the principles of silviculture and was written by a forester. Overall land management, including decisions to leave areas undisturbed and protect habitats, is performed collaboratively by the RFC team and our colleagues in Ecology. Forestry Management and education at Sterling College is enhanced by the presence and participation of LaMoille County Forester Jared Nunery, who maintains his office in Sterling College’s South House.

Dig In!

Orange-Gated Community

Cover photo by Alexandra Oles. Last week, London-based Whole Foods shopper Nathalie Gordon took note of a newfangled way to market oranges. She snapped and tweeted a photo of whole-but-peeled…

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The View from Cedar Cottage

As anyone who has ever had the honor of serving as a college president will tell you, each fall semester presents itself, after careful planning and no small amount of…

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The Rian Fried Center Team

The Rian Fried Center for Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems is one of the finest farm facilities at any small college in the United States. The RFC wouldn’t be where…

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