Row-by-Row: Growing a Resilient, Local Food System by Building a Sustainable and Scalable College Farm

Row-by-Row: Growing a Resilient, Local Food System by Building a Sustainable and Scalable College Farm

Time: Saturday, 11:15 am to 12:45 pm



Sarah Edmonds, LaFarm, The Lafayette College Community Garden and Working Farm. Assistant Director for Food and Farm

Peter Todaro, Fellow with Bon Appétit Management Company


Key Words: Sustainable, scaleable, food-system, solutions


In a broken and complex food system, building a sustainable college farm can provide students with a cross-disciplinary, living laboratory that infuses resiliency into campus culture. LaFarm, the Lafayette College Community Garden & Working Farm, has been innovating sustainable solutions to some of our most complicated educational and food related challenges by cultivating a scalable, off-grid model of soil building, crop production, and student involvement on formerly marginal and blemished spaces of our campus.

LaFarm germinated in 2008 during a college wide community reading project which inspired a student run garden in 2009. This grassroots garden evolved into LaFarm in 2013, which has grown into a robust Sustainable Food Loop that integrates curriculum, facilities, faculty, staff, volunteers, and Lafayette’s dining service provider Bon Appétit Management Company. The Sustainable Food Loop encompasses crop production for the dining halls and for area non-profits, the recycling of nutrients from composted dining hall waste back to the soil, and encourages use of the farm as a site for student-faculty collaborative research. Since 2013 LaFarm has grown into a 3-acre community hub that has produced over 15,000 pounds of food, hosts 15 classes a year, sustains a food justice student group, a farmers market, community garden and collaborates with the PanHellenic council and Center for Community Engagement for year round volunteers. In 2016 LaFarm was integral in establishing the Lafayette College Office of Sustainability.

This presentation demonstrates a row-by-row approach to make our community more sustainable; we turn the problems in our food system into solutions on our plate. We will ask the audience to share their challenges as we discuss ways to take our solutions and scale them to your communities needs. LaFarm provides a scalable and implementable off-grid model for campuses with any amount of marginal land that unites diverse actors across disciplines.