Albion College Student Farm

The mission of the Albion College Student Farm Association is to cultivate a student-organized, all-natural, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing produce garden for the benefit of students and faculty from all academic disciplines and community members of all ages.

Using a combination of fields, a hoop house, and Three Sisters plots, the student farm grows a variety of peppers, tomatoes, green beens, onions, squash, corn, beets, and herbs at its location in the Whitehouse Nature Center

The goals of the student farm include:

  • Promote gardening as an uplifting, healthful, environmentally-friendly activity
  • Experiment with organic gardening practices such as composting and planting heirloom seeds
  • Raise awareness about the role of a local diet in reducing carbon footprint by offering our produce to Dining Services, student apartments, and annexes
  • Help ensure equal access to nutritious food in the Albion community by donating produce to local charities
  • Encourage Albion residents, especially youth, to learn about and appreciate organic gardening, become more connected with their local food system, and grow a deeper sense of community.

A group of five students started the farm during Albion’s Year of Sustainability in 2010.

Student Workers

The farm is a three way collaboration among Albion College's Center for Sustainability and the Environment, the Whitehouse Nature Center, and an independent student organization.

The work in the student farm is all volunteer during the school year. In the summer, the Center for Sustainability employs two interns to work half time at the farm, with the Nature Center employing them the other half of their time. 

Gardens and Hoop House

The The 1,440-square-foot growhouse is a "greenhouse on wheels." The hoop house was made possible by a generous gift from the Baird family in honor of Jessica Baird’s, ’11, graduation. Jessie was one of the founding members of the student organization. The Student Senate has also supported the student organization generously over the years.

In the hoop house, student farmers grow tomatoes and a variety of peppers. Outside the hoop house, students manage Three Sisters plots (corn, beans, and squash), as well as:

  • Winter squash
  • Watermelons
  • Various herbs, including basil, parsley, oregano, mints
  • Onions 
  • Summer squash
  • Green beans

How To Help

You can get involved with Albion's student farm by volunteering with the Student Farm Association, or apply to work at the student farm during the summer. Contact CSE Director Tim Lincoln for details. 

The student farm needs help with:

  • Weeding
  • Composting
  • Planting and cultivating crops

 

Majors and Concentrations

The following programs of study are offered through Albion College's Center for Sustainability and the Environment.

Environmental Science Major

The 10-unit environmental science major provides broad exposure to environmental sciences at the introductory level, focused work in science at the upper level, and a set of cognates designed to show the social and humanistic context in which scientists work.

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Environmental Studies Major

Students completing the environmental studies major will gain a deep understanding of the complex relationships among natural and social systems, as well as a proficiency in the analytical, rhetorical and creative skills necessary to perceive the wonders of the natural and human worlds and to solve the environmental challenges we face in the twenty-first century.

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Sustainability Studies Major

Note: This major is currently under revision. Please contact Timothy Lincoln, CSE director, for further information.

This major offers an opportunity for Albion students to participate in an international, interdisciplinary program that is grounded in the social sciences and designed for students who are engaged in today’s and tomorrow’s sustainability challenges.

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Environmental Science Concentration

Some environmental careers are practiced primarily in one field of science. Students interested in pursuing such careers should consider the option of a science major with an environmental science concentration. It is strongly advised that students talk with science faculty in choosing their option.

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Environmental Studies Concentration

The environmental studies concentration is designed for students who have an interest in environmental issues and plan careers in related fields. The choice of courses for this concentration is more open than in the environmental science concentration, due to the varying interests and backgrounds of the students who choose this option. Participating students may pursue a major in any field. Students who complete this concentration might, for example, enter science journalism or work for environmental advocacy groups.

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New Mexico Trip 2013

Cover picture on bluff
Jackie, Scott and Ken overlooking Chaco Canyon

 

The 2013 CSE trip was to New Mexico, where we investigated several themes, water management in a water-poor area, administration of public park land, effects of climate change on civilizations, and, intertwined throughout, the way the history of the many cultures in the region shape the present state of affairs.

Rio Grande and Water 

paige talk
Students discussing water management with a hydrologist from the N.M. Interstate Water Commission
RioG
Jackie, Sara and Kara looking at invasive and highly water-consumptive salt cedar in the Rio Grande bosque, Albuquerque

Early in the trip. We spent a morning with Albion Geology Field camp alumna Page Pegram, now with the Office of the State Engineer’s Interstate Water commission. Page met us in the bosque along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque and explained some of the complexities of complying with interstate water agreements, protecting endangered species and conserving as much water as possible for New Mexico residents.

Native American History and Cultures

Our look at the long and important history of Native Americans began with a visit to the Chaco Culture National Historic Park, arguably the most fabulous archeological site in North America and also one of the most enigmatic. Real questions persist, with discussion of both how the civilization flourished in such a demanding environment and why the area was ultimately abandoned. The relationships among people, culture and climate are central to this discussion. We also visited Bandelier National Monument where more recent Pueblo cliff dwellings are well preserved, and Sky City at Acoma Pueblo, where modern descendants of the Chacoans still live in the longest continuously inhabited community in the country. Finally, we visited the Four Corners Power Plant, one of the most polluting plants in the nation, and considered the complex relationship between the plant and the Navajo Nation, in which it is located.

Acoma Pueblo

Acoma_Distant
"Sky City" of Acoma Pueblo is seen atop its 650 foot meas as we approach for our visit.  This site has been continuously inhabited for over 800 years.
rachel_acoma
Our tour of the pueblo included time to talk with local artists and shop their wares. Here Rachel is considering a traditional pot.
Acoma stairs
Although there is now access to the mesa top via a road constructed in the 1950's, the group opted to return to the base via older stairs cut into the rock.

Chaco Canyon

chaco from above
Pueblo Bonito is one of the best restored "great houses" in the canyon.
chaco in house
Jackie, Sara and Meredith in a room in Pueblo Bonito. Note the small size of the doorways and the lack of windows. Some people believe these indicate the rooms were storerooms for maize.
Chaco Cleft
Jackie follows a cleft to the top of the canyon on the trail to Pueblo Alto.
chaco on cliff copy
Scott, Jackie, Ken and Kara on the cliff behind Pueblo Bonito
Bonita house
View of Pueblo Bonito from the cliff behind it. The enigmatic "D" shape of the pueblo is evident.

Bandelier Archeology

Stairs to cliff In Cliff

 

 

 

Dr. Tim Lincoln

Tim Lincoln
Tim Lincoln

Q&A with Tim Lincoln

Students should join CSE because…

"I don't know of any other program that offers such a diverse curriculum and wide range of hands-on experiences. We offer three majors and two concentrations so that students are prepared for a variety of career options when they graduate, and we develop the skills necessary for them to be effective leaders."

Tim’s Best Advice

"Get involved! There are so many opportunities for you to make an impact. Students who find the time to be involved in projects have no problem finding their way into meaningful careers."

Why Tim loves being the Center’s Director

"I enjoy talking to prospective students about the opportunities our program offers, working with students on projects like the Student Farm, and following the careers of our alumni. It’s deeply rewarding. Some of the most interesting things I have seen in my life have been on our field trips."

On his favorite class field trip

"While in Oregon, we hiked the Cascade Mountains, studied sustainable urban development in Portland, looked at ecological research and forest management in the Andrews Experimental Forest, found inspiration in organic farms, spent a day discussing coastal zone management issues with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, and embarked on two scenic train rides on the Empire Builder."

Our field trips are significant because…

"Students are given an opportunity to actually experience different ecosystems of the U.S. They get to see the environmental issues that are happening and get to speak with professionals that are working to resolve them. Friendships and memories are formed on these trips that will last a lifetime."

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