A couple of weeks ago, three of the Duke Campus Farm (DCF) farmhands headed north to visit one of the most well-established campus farms around. We hoped to learn (or gain by osmosis) about how Yale’s highly successful project got off the ground and to take these lessons back with us to our own farm.
Here are the basics: the Yale Farm was established in 2003 with help from Alice Waters and planned by Eliot Coleman - two highly prominent figures in the local food movement. The Farm is managed by the Yale Sustainable Food Project (YSFP), whose mission is to provide Yale students with opportunities to experience and learn about many dimensions of food production and consumption. The Farm is roughly the same size as the Duke Campus Farm (DCF), and is located a 15-minute walk from Yale’s campus in New Haven.
Like the DCF, the Yale Farm practices sustainable and organic cultivation methods. The Farm grows as many varieties of crops as possible, and is even experimenting with growing mushrooms. Five full-time summer interns are employed by the Farm (and a number of full-time staff).
The Yale Farm strives to embody and incorporate New Haven and the University. Numerous innovative structures characterize the Farm: a retrofitted shipping container stores tools, and an insulated shed as a walk-in refrigerator (known as the “Cool-bot”).
A pavilion overlooks the farm, providing shade and community space.
New Haven is known for its pizza, and the Yale Farm makes some of the best at its on site, wood-burning pizza oven.
Every Friday, the Farm provides pizza to Yale students – we were warmly welcomed to join – made with ingredients from the farm. The pizzas we enjoyed featured beets, hearty greens, and summer squash.
The Yale Farm’s pizza rivaled that of some of the best-known pizzerias in New Haven (at which we made a point to eat).
We learned a great deal in the two days we spent at the Yale Farm – from organizational branding to engaging the student population to how to make truly excellent pizza. We’re grateful to the YSFP staff, especially Jacquie, and the Farm interns who made our visit both fun and informative.
Now, for the best part: putting all that new knowledge into action. We have big plans for the upcoming year, which include a pig roast this fall and pick-your-own strawberries in the spring. We’re looking forward to engaging Duke students with food, agriculture, and the myriad of associated political, scientific, technological, and health issues (to name a few).