“We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it, we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.”  —Wendell Berry


Apply to the Wendell Berry Farming Program


Introduction

The Wendell Berry Farming Program will inspire the most comprehensive change in agricultural education since the advent of the land grant universities and one that addresses the failure of higher education to use nature as its measure in preparing the next generation of farmers.

Inspired by the lifework of farmer and writer Wendell Berry, and designed in partnership with The Berry Center, in New Castle, Kentucky, the Wendell Berry Farming Program is designed to train a cohort of graduates in the skills and resources necessary to practice ecologically mindful and economically viable agriculture on a human scale. With classes taught by Sterling faculty, the Wendell Berry Farming Program of Sterling College will serve students who have a strong desire for an education that prepares them to come “home” to farm and build strong rural communities.

The Wendell Berry Farming Program of Sterling College is a two-year program, based in Henry County, Kentucky, through which students earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sustainable Agriculture from Sterling College. Through their work, graduates of the program are expected to embody an ethic of environmental stewardship, and contribute to the revitalization and renewal of rural agrarian communities in Kentucky and beyond.  

Thanks to generous philanthropic support from the NoVo Foundation , no student will pay tuition for the Wendell Berry Farming Program, giving graduates better prospects to farm without relying on student loans.

Admission Criteria & Deadlines

Admission is highly competitive. Applicants must have a strong work ethic and demonstrate a desire to farm and a commitment to working to strengthen rural communities. Applicants must have completed 60 college credits by August 25th, 2019, when the program begins. Typically, admitted students will have a strong liberal arts and sciences academic background and demonstrated experience of work and community service.  While applicants must demonstrate a commitment to sustainable agriculture, we do not require them to have studied agriculture in their first two years of college.

We are particularly delighted to receive applications from students who are residents of Kentucky.

Only twelve students will be invited to enroll with application review beginning on April 1st, 2019 and first offers of admission shared with applicants on April 15th, 2019. Enrollment commitments will be expected by May 1st, 2019.

Financial Aid

Financial need is not a consideration for admission to the Wendell Berry Farming Program. In combination with federal and state grant funding for which students may be eligible, Sterling will provide scholarship funding that fully covers the cost of tuition. There will be no tuition cost to any student, however, students will be responsible for the cost of room and board.  

Students and their families may elect to draw upon federal and private loans in order to pay for room and board costs, and Sterling College will assist families in navigating this process. However, no student will need to use student loans to pay for tuition.

All applicants must file the 2019 – 2020 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) using school code 014991.


Apply to the Wendell Berry Farming Program


 

Application review begins April 1st

Notifications Sent: April 15th

Enrollment Commitments Due: May 1st

Requirements: 2 Personal Essays, Resume, All High School & College Transcripts, 2 Letters of Recommendation, Phone Interview

Note for prospective Wendell Berry Farming Program of Sterling College applicants: With the news of this grant, the College is seeking authorization from its accreditor, the New England Commission of Higher Education, to establish a new instructional site in Kentucky and is working with the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education for licensure to offer the program in Kentucky. Updates on this process will be posted at www.sterlingcollege.edu.

Of the 12 students who will be enrolled within this five years of funding, anyone who falls out of course sequence with their cohort could finish the degree in Vermont, though they may not be eligible for this tuition scholarship. If circumstances beyond the student’s control prevent them from completing the degree in Kentucky, then the scholarship would support them to continue the degree program in Vermont.

Explore the Wendell Berry Farming Program coursework

The Wendell Berry Farming Program of Sterling College is a two-year program, based in Henry County, KY, through which students earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sustainable Agriculture from Sterling College. Through their work, graduates of the program are expected to embody an ethic of environmental stewardship, and contribute to the revitalization and renewal of rural agrarian communities in Kentucky and beyond.  

Frequently Asked Questions:

I already have a college degree. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes. You are welcome to apply. However, preference may be given to applicants who are seeking a Bachelor’s Degree. Additionally, if you already have a Bachelor’s Degree you may not be eligible for federal financial aid.

How much does the program cost?

Financial need is not a consideration for admission to the Wendell Berry Farming Program. In combination with federal and state grant funding for which students may be eligible, Sterling will provide scholarship funding that fully covers the cost of tuition. There will be no tuition cost to any student, however, students will be responsible for the cost of room and board.

Will I meet Wendell Berry, and is he one of the program instructors?

Wendell Berry is focusing on his writing, and is not directly involved with the Wendell Berry Farming Program. In the past he has met with Sterling College students in both Henry County and in Craftsbury Common, but there is no guarantee that he will be available to meet with students in the future.

What are the prerequisites for the program?

Applicants must have completed a minimum of 60 college credits by the start of the program, preferably including introductory level coursework in Ecology, Biology, and Soil Science, or the equivalent. A strong work ethic, a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, farming experience, and an interest in civic engagement and community service are helpful attributes.

I don’t have farming experience. Am I eligible to apply?

You are welcome to apply. However, preference may be given to student with hands-on farming experience.

I’m interested in sustainable agriculture, but don’t know if I want to be a farmer. Am I eligible to apply?

At its heart, the Wendell Berry Farming Program is a farmer training program. If you aren’t sure whether or not you would like to pursue a career in farming you are more than welcome to apply. However, preference may be given to students who are focused on farming in the future.

Why is a Kentucky program part of a college in Vermont?

Sterling College and The Berry Center developed a partnership because of shared values and complementary missions. Mary Berry, Founder and Executive Director of The Berry Center, is a Sterling College trustee, and the two institutions look forward to a long and happy relationship.

 

If you have questions that we have not answered here, please complete an inquiry form or contact the Sterling College Office of Admission.

Apply to the Wendell Berry Farming Program

Be Part of the New Generation of Farming

Help Usher in the Next Generation of Sustainable Farmers

With your help we can keep this program running for future generations

  • “This small college is one of the most important places in this country. Any institution can announce its ideals; great ones live them out–in the curriculum, on the campus, and in the portfolio.”

    Bill McKibben

    Bill McKibben

    honorary Sterling alumnus, environmental activist, and author of The End of Nature, Deep Economy, and Oil and Honey

  • “It’s cool to be down here during a time in agriculture where clearly something is not going right, but no one really has an exact answer … and I think that’s where the Wendell Berry Farming Program comes in.  Getting minds together that want to make a change, that want to do something differently, and giving them the framework and the opportunities to implement their ideas in Henry County is a really powerful idea.”

  • “This food movement is still possible, even in places where industrialization has taken over.  We’ve seen farmers doing it here, we’re seeing people getting back in to farming in a way that is good for the Earth.  That has made me optimistic for the future.  Seeing someone actually do it helps me push forward through the negative.”

  • “This program has made me reflect a lot on what it means to be a farmer, what that lifestyle entails.  It’s really hard work, but generally the community and the work and the appreciation for the land is worth that.”