Farm visit provides hands-on learning

The students in Willamette's Summer Institute in Sustainable Agriculture at Zena Farm spent the past few weeks learning the ins and outs of organic farming while examining various aspects of our food system. They stretched their brains as they debated the ecological, social, economic and ethical implications of what we eat, and they got their hands dirty working the land on Zena Farm, which provides sustainably-grown food to campus.

Many aspects of the program were just plain fun, like their recent visit to Berggren Demonstration Farm in Springfield, Ore., where they toured a vegetable garden, helped relocate fencing for goats, learned about the raising and slaughter of animals — and got to play with baby goats and ducklings along the way. They also heard from Willamette grad Katy Giombolini '10, one of the founders of Zena Farm, who now works at Berggren.

Wendy Petersen Boring and Jennifer Johns, who led the class, say the purpose of the visit was to show the students, at a micro level, how global systems work. "Food systems are being challenged, and I wanted the students to see first-hand how a farm worked and operated," Petersen Boring says.