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					Yale Organic Farm Proposal

                             February 20, 2003
                                 Lucas Dreier,
                                   Laura Hess,
                               Katherine Sims,
                                Joshua Viertel
Table of Contents

1. Executive Summary

2. Introduction

3. Proposal
       Establishment of Farm
                    Resources
                    Site
                    Farm Advisory Board
                    Board of Trustees
                    Labor
                    Materials/Equipment

       Educational Programs
                    Academic Programs
                    Recreational Programs
                    Community Outreach

        Food Production
                    Planting and Harvesting
                    Production

       Waste Recycling
                   Composting

       Build Model of Sustainability
                    Promotion

4. Appendix
       1) Farm Advisory Board
       2) Resources
       3) Suggested Timeline
       4) Farm Management Plan
              Guidelines, Border, Greenhouses, Crop Rotation,
              Fertility Management, Harvesting, Pest Management
       5) Budget
       6) Site Reviews
       7) Collegiate Organic Farm Research

    Proposal for the Establishment of a Yale Organic Farm
    Executive Summary:

    We propose the establishment of a Yale Organic Farm on at least 1 acre in close
    proximity to the Yale campus. The farm will include facilities for four-season
    vegetable production, institutional composting, and indoor storage.

      Objectives:
       1) To provide a valuable educational resource to Yale students, faculty, and staff;
       2) To model the most economically, socially, and ecologically sustainable
          farming practices available to us, while preserving an integral part of the
          landscape and the local economy;
       3) To serve as a resource and link to the greater New Haven community.
       4) To provide members of the Yale community with locally and sustainably
          produced food of the highest quality imaginable;
       5) To teach students in the dining halls, by serving food grown on the farm,
          perhaps even harvested by the students themselves, that eating is an
          agricultural act;
       6) To provide Yale students, faculty, and staff with the opportunities to work on
          a farm and to learn the skills needed to produce food, experiencing its joys
          and challenges;
       7) To compost Yale‟s organic waste, therefore reducing the University‟s disposal
          costs and creating a source of fertility for the Yale farm and other local farms;
       8) To make Yale a model of urban organic agriculture and food system

      Educational Programs:
       1) The farm will be incorporated in the curricula of courses in Yale College.
       2) Work-shops for Yale and New Haven community members will be held at
          the farm.
       3) Yale students will participate in farm work, both as volunteers and through a
          summer internship program.
       4) The farm will provide innovative educational programs for New Haven

      Timeline for Establishment of the Farm:
       1) Selection of an appropriate site by the Farm Advisory Committee in
          conjunction with Yale administrators;
       2) Creation of a Board of Trustees to oversee planning and funding;
       3) Hiring of a farm manager;
       4) Acquisition of appropriate tools and materials;
       5) Tilling and planting begins.


“…eating is an agricultural act.”              -Wendell Berry

“To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”    -Gandhi

         We all eat. We eat at the dinner table with our families, in the dining hall with our
academic community, in restaurants, in the car, at the computer, in front of the TV, and
on the phone. We eat Caesar salad, bagels and cream cheese, hamburgers, pesto pasta,
chicken wings, and coffee ice cream. Although we have a vast array of foods available to
us nearly all the time, we rarely stop to ponder where our food comes from, and the
complex consequences resulting from the choices we make when we eat it.
         When we look at a plate of food, we don‟t think about the thousands of miles it
probably traveled to reach us. We don‟t think about the energy (probably fossil fuels
emitting green-house gases) consumed in its transportation, or in its harvesting,
processing, refrigeration, and packaging. We don‟t think about the chemicals and
carcinogenic pesticides sprayed on the fields where our food was grown. Nor do we
think about all the people and jobs involved from start to finish. Though it may not be
obvious to the majority of people, eating a banana may contribute to global warming, a
rise in the incidence of cancer, and the exploitation of the working class in Guatemala. In
this rapidly dynamic world, it is of ultimate importance to think about the web of food
         At Yale, students can find classes ranging from German philosophy to complex
mathematics to Queer Studies. Some classes relevant to agriculture, such as soil science,
plant biology, the history of agriculture and, most notably, the offerings of the Agrarian
Studies program, do exist. Nowhere, however, is there a space or forum for one to simply
learn how to grow one‟s own food. And, more importantly, students are given little
encouragement to think critically about the way we as humans connect to and draw
sustenance from our land through agriculture. A Yale farm would serve this purpose.
         In a predominantly and increasingly urban world, we are losing the vital
connection between humans and land, and along with it, simple joys—like the warmth of
sun on one‟s back and the earth under one‟s bare feet, watching a plant grow over several
months, and sensing a profound power in the creation of life, sustenance, and
interconnectedness. There are deep lessons and pleasures that cannot be taught or
conveyed in a classroom or in a textbook—they must be experienced firsthand. That is
why the creation of a Yale farm is imperative.

        New England has a rich agricultural history, dating back prior to European
settlement. Yet, as the New Haven urban landscape grows in size, the number of working
farms around the area is in steep decline. Although a farm may seem entirely new to
Yale, the university was actually Connecticut‟s original Land Grant College. Thus, a
Yale farm will recapture a piece of Yale‟s history. The creation of a Yale farm will also
link other ongoing initiatives at Yale, such as the Sustainable Food Initiative at Berkeley,
the institutional composting program, the ACEM initiative for the greening of the Yale
campus, a successful farming conference that occurred in the spring of 2002 at Yale, and
twelve years of the Agrarian Studies program with weekly colloquia. There are many

other colleges in New England and the greater United States that have organic farms tied
to their academic programs, and these will serve as useful models for the Yale farm. The
development of a Yale farm will also be truly unique, as no other university has an
organic farm, within an urban environment, that comprises an integral part of their food
system. In an urban environment, where the link to the natural environment and
agriculture is often the farthest removed, Yale will have an opportunity to act as a leader
through the establishment of an effective model of sustainable urban agriculture.

1. Establishment of the Farm
       Preliminary Requirements:

 Resources
        There are many people and organizations that will be valuable resources for the
development of a Yale Farm. Contacts have been made with several independent local
organic farmers around New England who are willing to offer advice about small-scale
farming. Scientists at the Connecticut Agricultural station (Appendix 2) in New Haven
are also interested in working with the Yale farm on organic pest management and issues
of compost application. Yale faculty members have also expressed interest in helping to
set up the farm program and utilize it as a resource for their classes. Other collegiate
organic farms (Appendix 7) have been researched and evaluated so that their experiences
can guide the Yale farm.

 Site
        In choosing a site for the Yale Farm, one of the major criteria for the land will be
its proximity to the Yale campus—the closer the better, as a more accessible location will
involve more students. Size is another important factor. The minimum amount of land
required for the farm is an acre, while the ideal spot would be 15 acres. Since proximity
to the campus is important, if only a small plot was available near the university, a larger
plot may be acquired outside of New Haven for larger-scale production once the smaller
farm has been well established. In order to ensure active student participation, the small
plot near the university will be maintained as the visible face and organizational center of
the farm. All the Yale land holdings near New Haven will be evaluated first to void
significant purchasing fees. Yale alumni will also be solicited for land donations. The
land quality will also be a determining factor in site selection; all the potential sites will
be evaluated in terms of soil quality, sunlight, grade, water quality/availability, flood
history and abutting land uses. Taking all these considerations into account, the Farm
advisory board will select the most appropriate site (Appendix 6) for the Yale farm.

 Farm Advisory Board
       Faculty and students have been chosen to advise the university about the initial
formation of the farm (Appendix 1). Members have been selected based on their
knowledge and interest in agrarian and environmental issues. Once the administration
approves the proposal, the board will select the site for the farm and guide the farm

through its initial construction. After the creation of the farm, the Advisory Board will be
folded into the Board of Trustees.

 Board of Trustees
        A Board of Trustees will be selected to set policy, produce strategic plans and
monitor the farm‟s long-term progress. This board will have a broader range of members
than the Farm Advisory Board in order to ensure that the farm will have close ties to all
of the organizations and departments connected to the farm. It will be comprised of an
academic advisor(s), a Yale administration officer(s), a business manager, a farm
manager, student coordinator(s), dining hall representative(s), local farmer(s), and
coordinators of educational programs that are working with the farm. The goal of the
board will be to bring an interdisciplinary and interdepartmental perspective to decision
making on the farm.

 Staff
        The hired staff members will be responsible for the daily operations and
maintenance of the farm and composting facility. A farm manager will be a full-time
employee responsible for the crops and the composting facility. Due to the large number
of students that will visit the farm, it is also important that the farm manager be a skilled
teacher with interpersonal skills. A farm coordinator will be responsible for the
administrative requirements and coordination of all education programs offered to both
the Yale and New Haven communities. The bulk of the labor on the farm will be
provided voluntarily by students and through a work-study program. During the summer,
the farm will have a paid internship program offered to interested and qualified students.

 Materials/Equipment
        The farm‟s material requirements will depend on its size and location. The most
general inventory of supplies will include garden tools, a tractor (potentially fueled with
bio-diesel, derived from dining hall waste), and seasonally purchased seeds, that will all
be housed in a small storage shed on site. The farm will also include several low-cost
greenhouses. Because there is such a wide variety of composting units that are suited for
different locations, the best composting method will be chosen from a number of options
after the specific site has been selected. The environmental sustainability of the farm will
be emphasized through the green design of all buildings and the use of alternative energy
sources. (Appendix 5)

2. Educational Programs
       More than a mere food production center, the farm will enhance the educational
and recreational opportunities of Yale students, and serve as a vital link to the New
Haven community.

 Academic Programs
        With the cooperation of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and
interested undergraduate professors, the farm will serve as Yale‟s outdoor classroom,
providing opportunities for research, scholarship, and hands-on learning in various
academic disciplines. As a living ecosystem, the farm will be useful for the study of

ecology. Also, it will serve as an outdoor scientific laboratory for research in plant and
soil science. As a model of sustainable agricultural production and resource use, the farm
will become a valuable learning center for students in environmental and agrarian studies
and environmental engineering. As a micro-enterprise, the farm will be an excellent
research subject for studies in economics and management. And following the popular
axiom, „Think globally, act locally,‟ the farm will enhance the study of globalization by
demonstrating first-hand to students the fundamental challenges the human population
faces in its struggle to survive off the land.
        Several other academic departments will also benefit from the presence of the
farm in more indirect ways. Students of anthropology will explore the cultural
underpinnings of farming practices; historians will consider the long trajectory, extending
back hundreds of years, of human engagement with New England‟s soil; psychologists
will look at what happens in the mind when we connect with our food in a meaningful
way; artists will find a beautiful and inviting outdoor studio; and philosophers and
English majors will be able to follow Thoreau and contemplate the human relationship
with nature. Finally, beyond these academic disciplines, all who come to the farm will
leave with a better understanding of the philosophy and techniques of farming.

 Recreational Opportunities
        In a poll conducted last year by the YCC, 370 students indicated that they would
enjoy working on the Yale farm, and anyone who has worked the land knows that such
work, though often grueling, can be extremely rewarding. Volunteers will be welcomed.
The farm work will also be incorporated into Yale‟s work-study program, and several
full-time interns will be given a modest stipend to work the farm during the summer
months. Student groups like the Yale Student Environmental Coalition, Yale Outdoors,
and Harvest will organize workdays and educational programs at the farm on weekends,
and the farm will be open for festivals, picnics, and outdoor performances, making it an
integral part of the Yale campus.

 Community Outreach
         The farm will be an educational and recreational resource for the wider New
Haven community as well, fostering constructive interaction between Yale and the city.
Local elementary schools, as well as schools for children with special needs, will take
field trips to the farm to learn about farming and participate in growing and harvesting
activities. Also, a summer day-camp will offer children both an exciting way to learn
about nature and where food comes from, as well as an opportunity to care for animals.
On certain occasions, a small amount of the farm‟s produce will also be given to local
public schools in order to provide healthy, enjoyable snacks for children. Moreover,
through programs like Head Start and LEAP, Yale students interested in community
service work will be able to bring local youth to the farm so they can experience a green
space, learn about healthy living, and try their hands at growing and preparing food.
Beyond the school system, local farmers will host workshops to teach local gardeners
about ecological farming methods and to educate the community about the importance of
a local, sustainable food system. Also, a few raised garden beds will be built to enable
elderly community members to engage in gardening. All of these programs will provide

meaningful volunteer opportunities for Yale students and create real benefits for the New
Haven community

3. Food Production

 Planting and Harvesting
        These goals call for a management plan that, rather than solely maximizing
production, strives to maximize system health and educational viability. Long-term,
sustainable heavy yields can only be the result of a healthy system. This calls for a
method of managing soil fertility that addresses the notion of fertility, not as “plant food,”
but as the byproduct of a system well managed, through crop rotations, mulching,
reduced tillage, and undersowing of green manures. By managing fertility in this way,
the Yale Farm will not only produce healthy, nutritious, tasty and beautiful food, it will
model how the production can occur, while enhancing, rather than destroying, the health
of the local ecology. Pest management will also be seen as a byproduct of a system well
managed. Ideally, pests are managed by growing healthy plants in healthy soil, amidst a
diverse ecosystem. A system of inexpensive, energy efficient mobile greenhouses allows
for winter production, while leaving room for diverse crop rotations. Hand harvesting
and speedy delivery will allow us to grow crop varieties notable for flavor, rather than for
mechanized harvest, ability to be shipped, and long shelf-life. Once the farm is well
established, there will be the potential to increase the diversity of food produced by
introducing animals for meat, dairy, and eggs into the farm‟s system. The abundance of
compost afforded by the composting of Yale‟s organic waste will allow the Yale Farm to
supply compost to local community gardens, and will create a fertile environment for
Yale students and New Haven residents to interact both in the summer months and during
the school year. The waste from dining halls that is currently being flushed into our
water system will instead be used as a source of fertility that will grow healthy produce to
be served in those same dining halls. (Appendix 4)

 Production
        The Yale Farm will be managed to provide members of the Yale community with
diverse, locally and sustainably produced food, of the highest quality imaginable.
Simultaneously, it will provide Yale students, faculty and staff with the opportunity to
work on a farm, to learn the joys and challenges of food production, and to learn the
skills needed to produce food. By serving food grown on the farm in the dining halls,
perhaps food that those dining had harvested themselves, the farm will help students to
see that eating is an agricultural act.
        Interested and motivated Yale students will also be granted their own plots, where
they could take on the responsibility of growing their own garden. While Yale is not in
session, the farm will serve as a resource to the greater New Haven community.
Throughout the year, it will serve as a model of the most economically, socially, and
ecologically sustainable farming practices available to us. (Appendix 4)

4. Waste Recycling

 Compost
       Presently Yale grinds and flushes over 150 tons of food waste per year into the
sewer system. The New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority fines Yale with a
surcharge that totals over $140,000 per year. As Bill Idarola of the Water Pollution
Control Authority stated, “Yale University is the center of higher education in
Connecticut. They are also the center of water pollution stemming from institutional
kitchens.” The Water Pollution Control Authority says that this surcharge may double
over the next two years. Yale also hauls over 120 tons of food waste to the incinerator in
Wallingford. We send over 500 tons of laboratory bedding waste to the incinerator in
Bridgeport and 65 tons of fall leaves are sent to a composting facility in West Haven.
Yale pays to haul this waste, it pays to dump it, and in the case of the food waste sent
down the drain, it pays a fine for polluting with it.

        At present, New Haven is home to 60 community gardens. All of them are
experiencing a compost shortage. In addition, New Haven‟s industrial heritage leaves the
city‟s soil heavily contaminated with lead and other heavy metals; the most effective
remedy for lead contamination is compost application. New Haven is in desperate need
of composted organic matter. As stated above, Yale currently pays greatly to dispose of
its organic waste, and we accomplish that disposal in an ecologically unsound manner.
With relative ease, Yale can compost its organic waste at the Yale farm, supply the
community and the farm with much needed compost, and save over 100,000 dollars a

        Preferred composting practices vary with site characteristics. Generally speaking,
the best method for composting organic waste in urban areas is the use of an In-Vessel
Composter. These machines (essentially a truck container with a moving floor and
augers) speed up the composting process, guarantee no odor, and have a small footprint.
They require a greater capital commitment, but they tend to save money in labor, space
and hauling (as they allow composting to take place closer to the pickup site). In more
remote areas, where space is at less of a premium, and where residential homes do not
abut the composting site, actively aerated static piles are the preferred method. These
piles are built around inexpensive perforated tubing, through which air is forced, to
guarantee aerobic decomposition (aerobic decomposition avoids odor problems, and
decreases the time necessary for effective composting). Actively aerated static piles
require less capital outlay, but call for more space, and a less densely populated area.

       Yale‟s present waste disposal practices pose an ecologically and economically
expensive problem. Yale can solve this problem and help the New Haven Community at
the same time, through treating that organic matter not as waste, but as a valuable

5. Build Model of Sustainability

         With an exploding world population, the degradation of agricultural land, and a
rise in environmental toxins, sustainable and organic agriculture is quickly becoming a
hot issue with international focus. People are demanding food that is safe and healthy
both for their bodies and for the environment. With the recent transition of the majority
of the world‟s population to cities instead of rural areas, urban agriculture has gained
new importance. Furthermore, urbanization has led to a disconnection between humans
and the land, from which we draw everything we use to survive. By recognizing this
vital connection between people and earth, as well as the creative role humans play in life
cycles, Yale has the opportunity to restore and further develop these relationships on a
         Food systems, like forests, are complex ecosystems, and their study is of great
importance. Organic agricultural systems are unique ecosystems. Unlike large-scale,
chemical-ridden monocropping, organic systems elevate environmental health—by
harmonizing with ecologic and biologic cycles, promoting biodiversity, and eliminating
polluting chemicals. This, in turn, leads to cleaner water supplies and building nutrient-
rich soil. Goals in studying organic agroecology are wholly in line with the mission
statement of the Forestry school, which reads, “[w]e create new knowledge in the science
of sustainability and new methods of applying that knowledge to the challenge of
environmental management, the restoration of degraded environments, and the pursuit of
sustainable development.”
         At Yale, an Ivy League school wielding momentous influence, a farm will serve
as a powerful model of sustainable resource production, utilization, and preservation—
sending an ethical message to the world.

 Promotion
        The farm is a great opportunity for positive Yale publicity. In order to make the
farm a visible example for other institutions to follow, emphasis will be placed on
publicizing the values, history, and successes of the farm. Within the Yale community,
the farm will be shared through the courses which incorporate it into their curricula and
the students who participate in its programs. Outside of the Yale community, news of the
farm will be spread through articles in the journals and newspapers, talks given at other
schools, and participation in agricultural conferences. As such, the farm will
simultaneously serve as an integral component of the Yale food system and set the stage
for further change at other institutions.


              James Axley, School of Architecture
              Diana Balmori, School of Architecture
              Kelly Brownell, Psychology
              Kathryn Dudley, American Studies, Anthropology
              Gordon Geballe, Associate Dean, Forestry and Environmental Studies

       Mary Helen Goldsmith, MCDB, School of Forestry and Env. Studies
       Stephen Kellert, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
       Daniel Kevles, History
       Susan Mayne, School of Public Health
       John Rogers, Master of Berkeley College
       James Scott, Political Science, anthropology, School of Forestry and
              Environmental Studies, Director of Agrarian Studies
       Gus Speth, Dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
       Steven Stoll, Environmental Studies, History, American Studies
       John Wargo, DUS, Environmental Studies
       Harvey Weiss, Anthropology, Near Eastern Lang/Civ, Env. Studies

      Bill Duesing, Director of NOFA-CT, Yale College class of „64
      George Purtill, Old Maid‟s Farm, South Glastonbury, CT
      Kim Stoner, Connecticut Department of Agriculture, New Haven
             Agricultural Experiment Station, Hamden, CT
      Northeast Organic Farming Association of CT Board of
             Directors (NOFA-CT)

Community Members
     Silvia Dorsey, Manager of New Haven Community Gardens

University Groups
       The Yale Sustainable Food Project
       Yale Dining Hall Service
       Yale Student Environmental Coalition (YSEC)
       Food From the Earth (FFE)
       The Harvest Program
       Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies Student Food
              Interest Group (Food SIG)

       Alice Waters
       Michael Poland
       Carol Shennan, director of Agroecology program at UC Santa Cruz


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