Campus farm coming to Bucknell

The 5-acre farm will support food production, community engagement and student learning

LEWISBURG– President John Bravman has announced Bucknell University will establish a five-acre campus farm on a grass-covered hilltop above the recently opened South Campus Apartments, providing fertile ground for academic connections, sustainable food production, student life and wellness, and community engagement.

The Bucknell faculty and staff behind the project describe it as a natural extension of the Lewisburg Community Garden in downtown Lewisburg, a collaboration between the University and the borough begun in 2012 to address local food insecurity. Last season, the garden donated 3,800 pounds of produce with a market value over $10,000, and provided opportunities for hands-on student projects and service-learning.

The opportunities include everything from long-term research projects to locavore dining to outdoor music and arts performances. To help get them up and running, in March the University hired Jen Schneidman Partica, who was working as the part-time community garden coordinator, as the farm and garden coordinator.

In addition to providing educational opportunities, the University also intends to grow food for Bucknell Dining Services at the farm — replacing some produce trucked in from afar with organic fruits and vegetables grown right on campus — and to incorporate dining hall leftovers in composting.

The organizers also “see the farm as playing a role in creating a holistically healthy campus environment,” added Bray. “A piece of that is providing this awesome, fresh, healthy, locally grown produce, but we’ve also put a lot of thought into other features that would support a healthy campus climate.” Those include walking paths and an outdoor classroom or performing arts space, Bray said.

The organizers realize that the project won’t blossom into a fully functional farm overnight, and they plan to sow their fields deliberately and thoughtfully. They’ve established a 22-member oversight committee students, faculty and staff, and this summer will focus on improving the fertility of the soil and planting a few test beds. In the coming year, they’ll be working closely with Bucknell Facilities to design a site that takes full advantage of the hill’s potential.

“It’ll never be fully done,” Spiro said of the project. “There’s so much we want to do with the farm, but we are taking our time to make sure that becomes a true University-wide farm.”

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