The Wendell Berry Farming Program is a two-year residential education program
By Diego Flammini
Students looking to further their ag education have an opportunity to do so at no cost.
Sterling College, based in Craftsbury Common, Vt., is operating the Wendell Berry Farming Program in Henry County, Ky.
The two-year program is tuition-free and residential, meaning students will live and learn outside of their family homes.
The program is designed to help students who come from generational farm families or students who aspire to farm.
“We have less than 1 percent of the U.S. population farming and, of those folks who are farming, few of them are actually farming full time,” Dr. Leah Bayens, director of the farming program, told Spectrum News.
The program is named after Wendell Berry, a farmer and writer who lives in Henry County.
Throughout the two years of studies, students take courses including agroecology, U.S. farm and food policy and livestock systems management.
Upon completion, students will earn a bachelor of arts degree in sustainable agriculture from Sterling College.
Offering the program free of charge, with support from the NoVo Foundation, helps graduates start their ag journeys after graduation without having to worry about mounting debt.
Leaving school with “$100,000 in debt and to go into small-scale and mid-grade farming when (a student’s) potential on the return would take a very long time to pay off, it’s one of the reasons why we are very proud to be able to offer the Wendell Berry Farming Program as a zero-tuition program,” Moxie Mehegan, dean of admission and financial aid at Sterling College, told Spectrum News.
Sterling College operated a pilot program in 2018 and launched its first class of 12 students in 2019.
The school will once again accept 12 students for its 2021 enrollment.
Among the prerequisites are a strong worth ethic, and aspirations to farm and build rural communities.
Potential students must also have completed 60 college credits by Aug. 23, 2021.
Application reviews will begin on March 15, 2021. Anyone who receives an offer of admission must reply by April 15, 2021.
Farms.com has contacted school officials for more details on the Wendell Berry Farming Program.