Stanford University has been affectionately known as "The Farm" ever since it was established by founders Leland and Jane Stanford on their Palo Alto stock farm. The Stanfords' founding grant decreed that "a farm for instruction in agriculture" should forever be maintained on university lands.
In 2014 the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences established the O'Donohue Family Stanford Educational Farm on 6 acres near the university's historic Red Barn. The new farm comes out of nearly 20 years of student and faculty advocacy and planning in favor of a learning farm and was initiated with the generous support of the O'Donohue family.
The farm is a living laboratory offering academic and experiential learning opportunities for the Stanford community and beyond. The farm utilizes agroecological relationships and natural diversity to grow over 200 varieties of vegetables, flowers, herbs, field crops and fruit. Students come to the farm to test new ideas about the biological, social and environmental aspects of farming and gain experience in the practice of sustainable agriculture. On-farm research provides students hands-on learning opportunities.
Over the course of a year, the farm will harvest over 15,000 pounds of produce. Those crops will feed into a new farm-to-campus program, with fresh vegetables featured at R&DE Stanford Dining, in campus cafes, and at the Teaching Kitchen @ Stanford.
The new farm embodies Stanford's commitment to addressing the critical environmental and social challenges of the 21st century. Feeding future generations in a way that sustains our planet's environment and resources will require leadership versed in the theory and practice of agricultural sustainability – the kind of leadership that will grow on the farm.