DCF Gets Subnatural

We’ve had so much fun celebrating the seamier side of food and investigating the relative nature of savor, appetite and disgust through the Subnature and Culinary Culture series.

This fall, we’ve been collaborating on a lot of different events and in a lot of different ways, from moderating conversations on food utopias with Professor Charlie Thompson and some of Durham’s best chefs at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, giving pop-up talks and  participating in roundtables with visiting scholars at the Franklin Humanities Institute to providing the greenery for a Smokehouse behind the Allen Building (yes, we said greenery, and yes, the Allen Building) and growing sub natural delicacies for the series’ many delicious meals.

Master forager Tanith Tyrr and Josh Evans, of the Nordic Food Lab arrived at the farm like genies with a trunk full of amazingness – gin made with ants, fish sauce made with crickets (I guess that makes it cricket sauce), goose prosciutto, and wild orange marmalade, to name just a few favorites.

Duke Campus Farm pea shoots became a true masterpiece in collaboration with artist Jennifer Stratton at the Jameson Gallery, and took center stage at the Five Chefs One Concept dinner at the Cotton Room as part of Stratton’s Decomposition Dining series.

Chef Fatou Wilson cooked our sweet potato leaves into a delicious Senagalese dish for the Subnature dinner at the Marketplace, and our okra, and tomatoes were given a sub natural twist by chef Maggie Radzwiller at the Subnatural Histories lunch and talk.

Dr. Thomas Parker, the visiting professor from Vassar who coordinated this series in collaboration with Humanities Writ Large and the Mellon Foundation, has left for a well-deserved sabbatical. But we’re already looking forward to reconnecting at the Yale Food Systems Symposium later this fall.

Alternative Spring Break 2014

Last week marked our third annual “Farm to Fork: Alternative Spring Break,” which allows a diverse group of students each year to explore the complexities of our local food system. The 3.5 day experience tackled issues of food access, production, distribution, consumption, law and policy, food waste and redistribution and more. Students got to know Durham and their neighbors a little better, cooked and ate some incredible meals, and got their hands dirty on farms in the glorious spring weather.

Day 1: Grocery shopping simulation
Dinner guest: Dr. Mary Eubanks, Duke Biology Professor and non-GMO corn breeder

IMG_20140309_151435 To kick off the program, students were given an alternative identity for the week. Each name card listed which family they belonged to which indicated their socio-economic status,  their health and dietary restrictions and food preferences. Each family was tasked with shopping and cooking for one dinner during break.


The Red Family was a typical middle-class American family shopping at Kroger with an average budget and kitchen. The Green Family was a lower income family, shopping at Dollar General with a $1.50 per person per meal budget, and allowed access to only one burner and microwave for meal prep.





The Brown Family consisted of roommates in a eco-minded co-op shopping at Whole Foods. Each family had significant dietary restrictions ranging from celiac and diabetes to self imposed limitations of only consuming USDA organic certified products or a 200 mile radius. Each family also had to deal with constraints around mode of transportation to grocery store and time to cook.


Day 2: Meals on Wheels,  Collard Gleaning
Dinner guest: Ph.D candidate Shana Starobin


IMG_4509 Day 2 started off the morning with a visit to Durham non-profit, Meals on Wheels. MOW delivers over 300 hot meals to low-income and elderly residents everyday. The ASB crew delivered 5 routes, giving us the opportunity to spend time with our neighbors by brining them a hot meal and a smile. IMG_4521

IMG_4547Gleaning is the act of collecting the remaining crops from a farmer’s field after all of the commercially viable crops have been sold. The ASB crew joined the Society of St. Andrews to help them glean a collard farm in Raleigh which suffered from a harsh winter. Our crew harvested over 400 pounds of collards which were donated to Urban Ministries.

IMG_4549-001 Urban Ministries is a homeless shelter and food pantry in Durham and is trying to increase its clients access to fresh, healthy food. UMD regularly accepts produce donations from gleaners and other organizations trying to ensure health food access to all.




Day 3: Rose’s Meat Market, ECO, Duke Campus Farm, Dumpster Diving
Dinner guest: Dr. Kelly Brownell, Dean of Sanford School of Public Policy

IMG_4559 A visit to some of the newest food business owners in Durham focused the morning around distribution, processing and business. Rose’s Meat Market and Sweet Shop allowed us to tour their space as well as give us some insight into how they fit into the local food economy. IMG_4557 IMG_4555


Next up, a visit to the ECO hub and a tour with Eastern Carolina Organics, a wholesale distributor of sustainably raised produce. ECO takes care of advertising and sale of product, which allows farmers to focus on production and restaurants to get great local products.


With spring on the way, ASBers helped us prep the Duke Campus Farm for the coming season. Now we just waiting for that beautiful spring weather to return to get some plants in the ground.


A late night mission took the crew to stores to investigate the contents of dumpsters and see just how much food is thrown away on a daily basis that is still perfectly edible.

IMG_4577 IMG_4575


Day 3.5: Brunch, jam making and wrap-up


To wrap up the final day, students spent the morning cooking brunch, learning how to make jam and reflecting on the break’s big ideas.

Summer internship application open

Position: Duke Campus Farm Intern
Term: Summer, May 15 – Aug 10
Hours: 20/week
Pay: $10/hr

– Daily care for crops including watering, weeding, planting, harvesting, washing, packing and delivering crops
– CSA and farmers’ market sales
– Leading and facilitating community workdays
– Community outreach projects including giving tours, planning and facilitating educational workshops
– Working as part of a team to expand the operations and reach of the farm

– Duke rising sophomore, junior, senior or graduate students.
– Federal work-study preferred but not required
– Ability to provide personal transportation to the farm preferred
– Flexibility, the ability to work independently and with others.
– Self-starter and creative problem solver.
– Possession of good communication and interpersonal skills.
– This is a physically active and demanding job, the ability to lift and carry 50 lbs is a plus.

If you are interested in applying, please email dukecampusfarm@gmail.com with the subject line “Summer Internship” and include a resume and cover letter.



The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): Why you should care and how you can help

Written by Sarah Parsons, Former Farm Fellow.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is causing a stir among farmers and consumers throughout the nation. The new act, a set of rules and regulations created by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to create safeguards in food production, could place a large financial and logistical burden on small to mid-scale farmers across the U.S. Any farm making over $25,000 a year in produce sales could be affected, i.e. most fruit and vegetable production farms in America. The act also places undue burden on farms that use organic and sustainable practices. Should the rules stay as is, it will be more difficult for many farmers to stay in business, it may deter beginning farmers from farming, and it may make fruits and vegetables more expensive. During a time when the country is bleeding farmers, particularly young ones, and when fruits and vegetables are not readily accessible or affordable for many Americans, this act could have dire consequences both for our agricultural system and our public health.


Let us flashback to 1938, the year that FSMA was first created. In an effort to feed Americans both at home and oversees in WWII the U.S. agricultural system had to move large quantities of food efficiently and safely. FSMA was, therefore, in fact a good thing. For without FSMA, there would be no safeguards against distributing large quantities of contaminated food to the American people.

Now let us fast-forward to 1990 and the creation of the National Organic Program (NOP). In response to popular consumer demand, the National Organic Program, a program initiated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), created more markets for organic foods, i.e. foods grown without synthetic chemicals. As a result of the NOP, consumers now have a choice to buy organic or non-organic foods in the marketplace. Hold onto this idea and historical event. I will bring up how it relates to FSMA later.

Now let us jump forward to 2002 when the USDA created a voluntary certification program for farmers called the “Good Agricultural Practices” program (known by many as “GAP”). GAP is one of the most commonly recognized certifications among institutions and grocery stores. GAP sets forth a set of stringent guidelines that safeguard against the risk of spreading biological contaminants on produce later to be sold on the market. GAP certification is not required by law. Many restaurants and farmers’ markets do not require GAP certified produce. “Why might not everyone require that their produce be GAP certified?” you may ask. The answer: GAP certification can be costly for some farms, particularly smaller farms, and it places a large logistical burden on farmers. GAP certification requires intensive documentation that can be unreasonable for smaller farms to complete, given the smaller size of their staff. GAP is also not as necessary for smaller farms sourcing
directly to restaurants or farmers’ markets. Many restaurants ask that farmers sign contracts with a certain amount of liability coverage before accepting a farmer’s produce. In the event that any produce becomes contaminated, the restaurant can easily trace the produce back to the farmer and the farmer is held liable. A similar idea holds for farmers’ markets. Should a farmers’ produce be contaminated it is easily traceable. GAP was put in place specifically to create additional safeguards for the movement of large quantities of produce from many different farms to many different institutions. On a larger scale, it is much more difficult to trace back the source of contamination and hold a particular farm liable. Therefore in the case of large-scale distribution, GAP, like the original FSMA rule passed in 1938, can be a good thing. Although a good thing, however, it is also good that GAP is voluntary. Smaller farmers can opt to get GAP certified if they choose to sell produce to larger institutions and if they have the capacity and resources to do so.

Now, lastly I want to add to this stew of historical events an E. Coli outbreak in 2006, originating from a vegetable field in California, and the increased threat of bioterrorism in the U.S., resulting from 9/11. These two realities have created a sense of urgency among rule makers at the FDA to better standardize food safety in the U.S. The concerns of rule makers are legitimate, but the way in which they go about making the rules needs to be an intentional process that takes into account the livelihoods of farms of all sizes and approaches.

Now you are prepared to talk about FSMA.

FSMA Today

So what is the problem with the new proposed FSMA guidelines and why should you care?

For the Farmer: The 4 C’s: Cost, Contradiction, Compost, and Conservation

First, I want you to revisit my discussion of GAP in the Background section. The
new FSMA guidelines are in many ways similar to GAP guidelines. There are several differences as well, however, the premise is the same. FSMA has the potential to be costly for some farms, particularly smaller farms, and it places a large logistical burden on farmers. According to the FDA, the costs required to update a farm’s operations to be in compliance with the new FSMA rules can range anywhere between about $4,500 for a small farm to about $30,500 for a larger farm. When considering a small farm that grosses $25,000 a year, $4,500 is a large cost. Such high costs can also deter beginning farmers and potentially put smaller farms out of business. FSMA, also like GAP, requires intensive documentation that can be unreasonable for smaller farms to complete, given the smaller size of their staff. Additionally, should a farm want to maintain sales to direct markets (such as restaurants and farmers’ markets), it seems unnecessary that farms be required to comply with FSMA rules. It appears as though the intent of FSMA is to create additional safeguards against the risk of food contamination at a large scale. In instances, where large amounts of produce are being transported to markets and institutions across the country, then there is a place for FSMA, just as there is a place for GAP. However, in instances where it is easy to trace food back to the farmer (i.e. when food is sourced directly from the farm to a restaurant or a farmers’ market), it does not seem as necessary to require these additional regulations and safeguards. On a small scale, a farmer, who has a direct relationship with a restaurant or his customer, is already heavily affected by the burden of accountability. It is in the direct interest of the small farmer to provide quality produce, because he is likely to lose his customers if he does not. The onus of accountability may be burden enough.

Another major issue with FSMA is that it creates regulations only for biological contaminants on produce. Therefore, it places an undue burden on farms that use organic and sustainable practices. Conventional farms that use synthetic chemicals are not included in the new FSMA regulations. This reality raises the question that we, as a society, have to ask ourselves. Should we not be equally concerned about chemical contaminants on our food as we are biological contaminants?

In the new FSMA regulations, if you are a farm that uses compost generated on-site and/or if you use any animal-derived amendments, then you may be negatively affected. The new FSMA rules require a waiting period of approximately 9 months between when compost is put down and crops are harvested (if there is risk that the produce may come in contact with the ground). Annual crops generally take a fraction of that time to mature. Therefore, farmers would have to leave a field fallow for 9 months after compost application before planting, at which point many of the nutrients may have leached from the soil. This regulation may force many farmers to go the route of chemical amendments, which are not regulated under the rules. For farmers wanting to be organic certified, chemical amendments are not an option. This regulation is also in direct conflict with National Organic Program standards, which requires and recommends a reapplication of compost at 3-4 month intervals.

In the conversation section of the FSMA regulations, the FDA makes a claim that it wants both to support sustainable conservation practices and food safety. However, it does little to address how sustainable conservation practices should be implemented. In addition, in the Domesticated and Wild Animal section of FSMA, there is language that implies that animals should be kept off land that is to be in fruit and vegetable production. There are various different regulations for domesticated versus wild animals. However, by implying that farmers should keep wild animals off their property, farmers may be encouraged to rid of natural areas
around their property. Both the lack of language about conserving natural areas around farms in the Conservation section of FSMA and the language that encourages the removal of wild animals from farm areas in the Domesticated and Wild Animal section, may further encourage farmers to rid of natural areas around farms.
Natural areas around farms support native pollinators and beneficial animals that aid in the functioning of a healthy agro-ecosystem.

For the Consumer
As a consumer, if you value getting fresh produce from local farmers, as well as from farmers that use sustainable and/or organic practices, then the new FSMA regulations will affect you too. Should the regulations pass as is, the costs to the farmer will also be passed on to you, the consumer. Additionally, over the long term it may reduce your options of organic and/or local produce. The new regulations put a great amount of burden particularly on smaller farms and organic farms.

Be a part of the Movement and Take Action
The new FSMA rules are open for public comment, so now is the perfect time for you to make your voice heard. We need everyone to comment, so please take a few minutes out of your day to visit the two links below and send a comment to FDA.

For Consumers:
Visit this link.

For Farmers:
Visit this link.

These links provide detailed instructions about how to submit a comment, and it also provides sample comments for you to use as a guide. Please try to make your comments as unique as possible, and please do not copy the sample. These links also provide more detailed analysis of the proposed rules, should you want to learn more about how the rules will affect you.

Farmers it may be helpful to pick one or two of the issues in the Produce Rule that directly affect you and comment on those rules. Give a personal story, and do not be afraid to tell FDA how the new rules would affect you.

Some small farms are exempt from some of the rules. However, it is advised that all farms and farmers comment. Even if you may be exempt now, the rules may eventually affect you either directly or indirectly.

Be a part of the movement and help make a difference!


*The information gathered for this blog post was obtained from the National
Sustainable Agriculture Coalition website. NSAC provides a great analysis of FSMA.
The analysis I provide below is not perfect and only highlights a few aspects of FSMA.
For more up-to-date, detailed information please visit the NSAC website.

Farm Manager Position Available

At the end of 2013, the current Farm Manager will be leaving the Duke Campus Farm to pursue other opportunities. We are currently accepting applications for the Farm Manager position.  Please send resume and cover letter to emily.sloss@duke.edu with subject line “Farm Manager Application.”

Position Summary

The Farm Manager is responsible for furthering the mission of the Duke Campus Farm in two primary areas: 1) increasing access to local, organic, and sustainable food on campus, primarily from the Duke Campus Farm; and 2) growing the farm’s role as an educational resource that provides the Duke community with opportunities to engage with the study and research of food, economics, agriculture, human culture, and the environment through academic inquiry and extracurricular activities.

Key Duties and Responsibilities

Farm Operation & Produce Sales – 60%

  • Manage the daily operations of the Duke Campus Farm, including but not limited to crop planting and harvesting, soil management, pest management, and irrigation.
  • Cultivate and maintain relationships with customers. Seek input from buyers regarding crop selection and provide advance notice regarding expected harvest times and crop volumes.
  • Organize the harvest, preparation and delivery of farm produce to customers, including campus eateries, CSA, Duke Farmers’ Market and others.
  • Maintain detailed tracking of crop selection, planting locations, crop volumes, and crop revenues (volumes, prices and eateries).
  • Maintain a record of valuable information and “lessons-learned” from farm operations.

Employee Management – 15%

  • Manage student employees, including staffing, supervision, and performance development of summer interns, Work-Study students, and in-kind student volunteers (from Students for Sustainable Living, Nicholas School Apprenticeship Program, etc.) throughout the year.
  • Oversee and support Farm Fellow in communication and community outreach responsibilities including: workshop series creation and implementation; dissemination of events and information through websites, blog and social media; advancing the sustainable food system research agenda at Duke and beyond; and expanding academic offerings and connections to the farm.
  • Seek advice and consulting from individuals knowledgeable about organic farm operation, crops, pest management, and other aspects of organic farm operation, including managing paid consulting contracts as need arises for expertise.

Student Engagement & Academic Integration – 10%

  • Collaborate with faculty across schools and departments to support a vibrant discourse on food, agriculture, environment, ethics, health and related subjects, including integration with curriculum.
  • Promote and guide experiential learning on site at the farm and ensure that the farm is a vibrant living laboratory for students and courses at Duke by overseeing community workdays, guiding academic projects, and assisting with research projects on the farm as desired and appropriate.
  • Oversee the development and operation of additional extracurricular educational programs such as an alternative spring break, pre-orientation programming and supporting creation of Sustainable Food Systems certificate.

Strategy and Administration – 10%

  • Assume primary accountability for leadership and direction of the Duke Campus Farm in developing project goals and strategy, including of expansion of food production and educational programming.
  • Engage and update key constituencies at Duke in the operations and expansion of the farm as necessary.  Foster, promote, and strengthen interactions among various Duke departments engaged with the farm, including but not limited to Office of the Executive Vice President, Sustainable Duke, Duke Dining, the Office of Student Activities and Facilities, Office of the Duke Forest, and customers. Publish Annual Report and quarterly updates of farm’s progress for stakeholders.
  • Convene meetings and organize membership of the advisory board of the Duke Campus Farm and seek advice and support from this diverse body of stakeholders.  Provide updates to the board regarding the farm as necessary.
  • Maintain knowledge of leading sustainable food programs in higher education and best practices in campus farm operation to guide the direction of farm development and enhance opportunities for academic inquiry into food issues at Duke.

Accounting & Budgeting – 5%

  • Maintain detailed accounting of expenditures and revenues for the farm, including regular evaluation of farm accounts and available funds.
  • Invoice customers in a timely fashion and ensure that all revenues are collected.
  • Develop fiscal year budget for the farm based on anticipated operational expenses and expected capital improvements and expansion.
  • Work closely with staff of Sustainable Duke in the application and reporting process for The Duke Endowment sustainable agriculture grants.
  • Other administrative accounting and payment responsibilities as necessary.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Work requires communication and analytical skills normally acquired through a 4-year college education.
  • Academic background in agricultural or food studies preferred.
  • 3+ years experience growing produce with sustainable practices.
  • 2+ years experience in project and employee management.
  • Proven ability to multitask, consistently meet or exceed deadlines and goals, and work effectively with diverse groups and individuals.
  • Must be self-directed, organized, attentive to details and enthusiastic.


Please send resume and cover letter to emily.sloss@duke.edu with subject line “Farm Manager Application.” 

Celebrate with us!

The pavilion is on its way to completion so we’re planning a big party to celebrate! Join us for a traditional contra dance Friday, September 13th at 7pm, for live music, dancing, and a first look at the new community gathering spaces at the farm.  This event is free and open to the public, no previous experience contra dancing required, all ages welcome!


Revolute Farmers: Harvesting from the Margins

It is surprising how much farming can ignite one’s revolutionary flame. Before the last decade or so, words like “revolution” and “farming” were rarely used in the same sentence, let alone as complimentary forces. Even though key figures like Karl Marx and others have associated farmers with the revolutionary proletariat as early as the 19th century, the farm has flown under the radar as a worthy place of revolutionary potential.   However, over the last few incendiary years in the political arena, farming has become a trade that has literally beaten its swords into plowshares and mounted an agrarian armada to which people are beginning to pay attention. In the heat of the Moral Monday protests in Raleigh, NC, and the various pieces of controversial legislature at the state and federal levels, it seems thoughts of and conversations on revolution are at a premium. Just last week at Duke Campus Farm, the staff and I had our own conversation about the atmosphere of American politics and the current state of agricultural revolution – a revolution in which the dirt we were standing on, and covered in, was invested. This conversation made me wonder: what, then, makes farming truly revolutionary?


First, a definition. “Revolute” is a helpful and interesting word as it pertains to farming. Not only can it mean “to incite or participate in revolution,” but it can also serve as a horticultural term connoting “the tips or margins of leaves rolling back under or onto themselves” (http://www.merriam-webster.com). Here, we can hold the image of the revolting farmer and the curling leaf together in that the price of counter-culture farming sometimes means the withering of the current business model of the farm and the loss of the security that comes along with such revolutionary farming. In this way, the revolting farm literally undergoes a sort of revolution in both instances of the word. And, as coincidental as it might seem, we cannot ignore the connection to the entire motif of farming: the life and death, the growth and curling, the jumping bounty of summer and the revolute withering of winter. Although some farmers are undergoing these growing pains as their farms enter into a sort of revolution of their own, these pains are necessary and are not an end to themselves.  More and more farming is turning in on itself, revoluting, pulling money and resources from big-production-driven operations and counter-investing into personal land connected to intimate stories of committed and morally concerned people. In some small way, that is what I envision the Duke Campus farm to be: a risk made by students with an insurrectionary backbone that has definitely had its hard times, but is now benefiting from the turn inward not just from big production agriculture, but ideological ideas about ones connection to and working of the land. I want to call this type of farming “revolute farming.”

I want to play with this definition of revolute a little more so as to make it all the more pertinent to the agrarian reading at which I am grasping. As stated earlier, in the world of horticulture revolute can mean that the tips or margins of a leaf are rolling or curling back onto itself. If we take the horticultural definition, play with the word order, and read it in a sociological register, we get deeper meaning of revolute that is ripe with potential concerning social justice: people at the margins and boundaries that have begun to fold back under or into the center of society. So then, revolute farming is a lifestyle of farming that brings those and that which have been pushed or secluded to the margin back into the fold, enveloping the people and the practices that have been forgotten at the boundary back into the main vein.


Clarence Jordan
Clarence Jordan

We see can see a prime example of what I am trying to articulate in Americus, Georgia in the 1940’s at the hands of Clarence Jordan. A biblical scholar and a lifetime farmer, Jordan decided to take his 440 acre farm in southwest Georgia and make it into a revolutionary place where black and white people lived in community together, ate common meals, and received equal wages – one of the first places in America to do such a thing. They called this revolute plot of land “Koinonia Farm,” koinonia simply meaning “community and fellowship.” Although local people hated Jordan for his farm – often sabotaging his crops, firing guns at his home at night, and bombing his roadside produce stand – Jordan endured and became one of the prominent leaders of the civil rights movement in Georgia. The farm still operates today and stands as a beacon of hope in merging social justice with stewardship of the land. (Visit http://www.koinoniapartners.org for more info on the amazing life of Jordan, as well as the current life of the farm.)

In the life and work of Clarence Jordan and the example of Koinonia Farm, we see a type of revolute action that pulls those people who are at the fringes of existence and places them firmly into the center of life. Jordan saw a society that was withering and could only survive by taken that which was pushed away and planting it back into the epicenter. What is most interesting, especially in connection with Duke Farm, is that Jordan could not envisioned true revolution without some sort of connection to the land; his uprising was one that could only take place by being embedded deeper into the soil around him, with those around him. Jordan may be the prime definition of what it means to be a revolute farmer.

How, then, can we become revolute? I asked the question earlier about what it would take for farming to be truly revolutionary. Is it enough to discuss the problems of our country in the field as farm crew and I did, or does our responsibility extend much father? In his article, “Race and Revenge fantasies in Avatar, District 9 and Inglourious Basterds,” John Rieder gives us some useful thoughts on the popularity of movies and books concerning revolution in America, which speaks to revolutionary desire in all of us to rebel and combat the injustices of our world (with Avatar and District 9, we could also include Hunger Games, The Matrix, and The Dark Knight Rises, to name a few). However, Rieder argues that when we read these enflaming stories or watch these inciting films, it give us just enough shock to satiate our longing for change so that we, ultimately, do nothing to follow through on those revolutionary desires. Rieder writes:

Most Sci-Fi films, or popular films period, deal with revolution in a way that can be expected not only to exploit but also to manage or redirect the violent energies of the [revolutionary] fantasies and the volatile content of racial injustice. In the very act of raising and drawing upon the liberatory desires of popular violence and the aggressive demands for an end to racial injustice inherent in their content, the films will always find ways to deflect and redirect those desires . . . it does not operate to stir the flames of rebellion or rouse the audience’s political consciousness from its daydreams, but rather to cash in on those daydreams. (47)

In short, these types of media get us just fired up enough to do absolutely nothing; it allows us to talk about and visually experience revolution while satiating our emotions for the actual acting out of such ideas.

I want to extend Rieder’s critique a step further and suggests this is exactly what is going on when we buy our groceries at Whole Foods or volunteer on a farm once a month – we do just enough to emotionally suppress our greater responsibility. The singular act of shopping at Whole Foods is not enough to satiate what it means to be revolutionary, and eating organic fails to encompass every bit of our moral obligation when it comes to being revolute farmers. Furthermore, growing your own food is still not enough. The goal of revolute farming is for the farming lifestyle to engulf every part of your being and to invade every minute and facet of your life. This means having dirt under your finger nails must go with tending to those who are, in every respect, dirty and forgotten. This life involves that gleaning your harvest have some legitimate connection with those who are hungry. Revolute farming entails watching your plants fold back into themselves in the offseason as much as it means pulling in the marginalized from the boundaries of society into your community, or going to theirs; that our hands and faces stay different colors after we wash them off.

We can only strive to be better revolute farmers as much as we can only hope that our Moral Monday become moral Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thursdays, and so on. What does it mean to practice revolutionary farming? – come to the farm and join us as we plant, harvest, and struggle to figure and live it out.

Josh Barfield is an intern at the farm and a second-year MTS student at Duke Divinity. His interests include farming (of course), identity politics, the intersection of religion and politics in the rural south, and, most importantly, comic books. Shoot him an email at joshuacbarfield@gmail.com or comment below and tell him what you think of the post. He would love to hear from you!

Pavilion Update #2


After almost a year of designing, planning and permitting, the construction crew broke ground on the pavilion and shed last Tuesday, July 16th. For the past two weeks, the crew has been hard at work to get the structures finished in time for the students’ return.

The shed’s concrete foundation is complete and the walls are half way done.

Pavilion construction photos1

The pavilion’s foundation is complete!

Pavilion construction photos2


A Fellow’s Transition

Now that my time at the Duke Campus Farm has come to a close, I have had the opportunity to reflect on my experiences there.  I find that I am already missing the dirt under my nails, and the ever-darkening farmers’ tan.  I also find that I am missing working and sweating with my fellow colleagues.  I miss seeing that beautiful piece of land everyday, and I miss growing food to feed bodies and souls.   Although I miss all these wonderful things, I find that I feel a profound peace for the farm and its future.  This peace makes my heart whole, and dissipates any ache I feel not being able to work the land everyday.

(From Right to Left) Sarah Parsons, 2012 DCF Fellow; Emily McGinty, 2013 DCF Fellow
(On the Right) Sarah Parsons, 2012 DCF Fellow; (On the Left) Emily McGinty, 2013 DCF Fellow

I watched the farm grow in amazing ways during my fellowship year.  I witnessed the building of an outhouse, the planning of a pavilion, the expansion of vegetable production, and the construction of a new hoop house, among a number of other amazing events and milestones.  I observed all the seasons at the farm, and the coming and going of all the different crops.  I also watched the farm’s educational reach expand.  This past year, the farm hosted more workshops, tours, and classes than ever before.  The farm also worked on projects with a multitude of different students and researchers from all different disciplines and academic paths.  One highlight working with researchers came when Dr. Mary Eubanks, a well-known corn breeder here at Duke, approached us to help her run some of her corn breeding trials at our farm.  We were thrilled, and planted her corn this past spring.  Now her corn and our spirits stand tall and proud in the lower southwestern quadrant of the field, next to our proud watermelons planted by our fabulous summer interns.

A community of devoted individuals with a vision for a more equitable food system started the farm 3 years ago.  Today that community of individuals continues to grow, and consequently the farm is blossoming.  I firmly believe that future years will welcome more devoted individuals to the farm and grow the farm community.  Maybe one day the farm community will be of a different scale, one that encompasses a significant portion of the Duke undergraduate and graduate population.  The possibilities are endless, and we can only grow from here.

So although I am saddened that I cannot work in the Duke Campus Farm dirt everyday, a profound peace comforts me when I think about the farm in its future.  And an even greater peace overwhelms me when I think that I got to play some small role in helping make that future happen.

And with that I say adieu.  Thank you to Emily Sloss and the Duke Campus Farm team for letting me be a part of this wonderful vision.  I am thrilled I have had the opportunity to be a part of the Duke Campus Farm family.

“May the road rise to meet you, Duke Campus Farm, may the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rains fall soft upon your fields… until we meet again.”  -Irish Blessing-

Pavilion Update #1

dcfmodelVIEW1 copyHave you heard? We’re building a pavilion! Currently there is no shelter on the farm site and we’re quickly running out of storage space in our little shed (pictured left). The pavilion and new shed will allow us to meet the growing demands of the farm by providing an outdoor classroom for workshops and visiting courses, weather shelter for our workers, increased storage for farm tools and an improved produce washing station. The structures will be built in part through a grant from the Duke Endowment as part of a collaborative sustainable agriculture initiative between the 4 endowment schools.

As of June 1st, the structure is designed and the building permit is currently in review by Orange County. Once the structure is approved we can begin construction which should take 4-6 weeks. Hopefully by the time students return in August the structure will be complete.