Over six hundred meals a day, three times a day, are served at Hampshire College while college is in session. Approximately 1,400 students attend the school.
To provide the food to feed them, the college has the Hampshire College Farm Center in Amherst, MA, a 100-acre working farm that also provides work-study jobs for the students to study farming. This is in keeping with the college’s goal to locally source 100 percent of the food served on campus.
“We sent eight beef to them this year, usually 15-20 pigs. We send 70 dozen eggs a week; we could do a lot more eggs, but in general eggs are not profitable,” said Pete Solis. He has been the Director of Livestock and Pasture Management for the past year and a half, having brought with him his experience working on his own farm in nearby Easthampton.
“We raise the product and sell to the dining hall to be able to employ the number of students we employ. We have to bring in some income,” said Solis. He has 15 people on his Farm Center payroll right now, all on work-study.
Nancy Hanson, who runs the vegetable component of the farm, has 50 students on her payroll. Fifteen acres are in vegetables, producing 75,000 pounds of vegetables annually, according to the farm website. The other 85 are kept as pasture, and hayed into round bales by a local contractor to feed the livestock.
There are a half dozen hogs, mainly Berkshire Yorkshire crosses, that are destined for slaughter at the end of the month. They are extremely friendly, as the students spend a lot of time with them. The students prefer not to name the animals, which means Solis can avoid having to name each new crop of animals as he records them.
Of the dozen current resident beef cattle, two Devons are scheduled for slaughter this month. Then he’ll get eight more yearlings the students will be able to work with. The other cattle are mostly Belted Galloways.
There is also an estimated population of 65,000 plus bees on location.
“The Farm Center got started in the 70s, a farm extension designed to be a living laboratory. Hampshire is pretty unusual. Students are allowed to design their own majors based on their own interests. In 1975, one student started a CSA. There was a whole sheepdog cooperation back in the 80s,” said Solis.
From that genesis, the Farm Center has both meat and vegetable CSAs of products produced at the Farm Center, where the public can come pick up their food shares, and be part of the college by extension.