“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
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. Read the full case statement here.
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 23th, 2021, 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 March 15th, 2021 and first offers of admission shared with applicants on April 1st, 2021. Enrollment commitments will be expected by April 15th, 2021.
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, board, and fees.
Students and their families may elect to draw upon federal and private loans in order to pay for room, board, and fees, 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 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) using school code 014991.
All Application Materials including the Interview Due: March 1st, 2021
Application Review begins: March 15th, 2021
Decision Letters Sent: April 1st, 2021
Enrollment Commitments/Deposits Due: April 15th, 2021
Requirements: 2 Personal Essays, Resume, All High School & College Transcripts, 2 Letters of Recommendation, Phone Interview
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.