Wendell Berry Farming Program

The first students in the Wendell Berry Farming Program of Sterling College began studies in Henry County in Kentucky in late August.

Sterling College in Craftsbury has expanded its campus to a site in Kentucky.

The first 12 students in the Wendell Berry Farming Program of Sterling College began studies in Henry County in Kentucky in late August.

The program is named for American poet, novelist, activist, farmer and Kentucky native Wendell Berry.

Students will spend their junior and senior years learning ways to contribute to the revitalization and renewal of rural agrarian communities in Kentucky and beyond.

“Our students work side by side with neighbors and learn from and with the good farmers, foresters and rural leaders who make Henry County a worthy classroom,” said Dr. Leah Bayens, dean of the program. “In turn, they’ll become the leaders who shape thriving landscapes and communities by growing healthy food.”

More than half the 12 students are from Kentucky, and all will receive a bachelor’s degree in sustainable agriculture from Sterling, whose mission is to advance ecological thinking and action. Thanks to a $3.5 million grant and challenge from the NoVo Foundation, the revolutionary no-tuition model helps support graduates to live and farm in rural communities without the burden of college debt. 

“It’s hard to put into words what this opportunity means to me. It’s so much more than an education,” said Rachel Hampton, a Wendell Berry Farming Program student who manages a 50-acre farm with her family in Glencoe, Ky. “It’s someone looking at you, and saying, ‘I believe in you, I believe in your dreams and the things that you’ve been working toward and I want to help.’”

The Kentucky field site is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education, and the college is licensed to operate in Kentucky by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.

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