Student agricultural operations on American university and college campuses have existed since the early 1900s. Over time, more have sprung up and some have closed down.
Student farms and gardens range in many aspects. I visited six within driving distance from the University of Notre Dame to find out the best tips and tricks regarding sustainable agriculture programs in a higher education institution. I contacted eight colleges and universities in Chicago, Indiana, and Michigan that had Gold or Silver certification through the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) and a farm or garden. The only exception is Indiana University South Bend, which is not STARS certified, but included because of its close proximity to Notre Dame. I had the opportunity to visit and interview six of them. I conducted site visits and in-person interviews at the student-involved agricultural projects of Goshen College, Grand Valley State University, Indiana State University, Indiana University South Bend, Loyola University Chicago, and the University of Michigan.
I prepared a report comparing the logistics and operations of the student agriculture projects I visited, highlighting their unique features, and covering advice and warnings from farm managers, in preparation for planning the best ways to reinvigorate Notre Dame’s student garden — and hopefully, propose a general case for the value and importance of sustainable agriculture education at Our Lady’s University. I also wrote a formal proposal and document detailing the equipment needed for the best long-term operation of Notre Dame's student garden.