For the past two years, Davidson College has been growing it’s own food just a few miles off campus on Grey Road. The Farm at Davidson College grows local, healthy produce including lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, melons, zucchini, and countless other homegrown goodies that are sent straight to Dining Services. This food appears on the salad bar, in sandwiches, and on pizzas in Vail Commons as well as in the gourmet meals prepared by the on-campus catering service. The farm consists of 108 acres but currently only 1.5 is in production. This land is divided into seven fields including a high tunnel.
One woman stands behind the crates of cherry tomatoes and mescaline salad mix as they are hauled onto the loading dock behind Commons. Theresa Allen, the Davidson College farm manager, juggles producing hundreds of pounds of fresh food along with educating students, faculty, and staff about her work and the larger agricultural world. Most remarkably, however, she manages to do it all with a smile that could make even the most overscheduled Davidson student stop to say hello.
The Farm at Davidson College provides countless services for the Davidson community. It keeps generations old farmland in production, preserving the history and landscape of the town, and provides access to healthy food for anyone who eats in Davidson dining facilities. Arguably, however, the farm’s most important function is the role it plays in the lives of the students who spend time on its land. The farm helps to shape the experiences of every student who makes the trek through the cross-country trails to the driveway marked by a hand painted sign decorated with carrots and sunflowers.
The main labor force for the farm, besides Theresa, is made up of a team of work-study students as well as groups of volunteers who come out for “work days” on the farm. Although The Farm at Davidson College is funded by the Duke Endowment, an outside source, the farm is run by Davidson students and staff and provides food exclusively to Davidson College. Davidson hopes to continue to expand production and play a more significant role in providing the vegetables, fruits, and herbs that Davidson students consume every day on campus. In the meantime, the farm will continue to help Davidson create well-rounded graduates who are able to view global issues, such as food production and security, in a myriad of ways.