In 1990, Congress defined Sustainable Agriculture (SA) “as an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site specific application that will, over the long-term: satisfy human food and fiber needs; enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agriculture economy depends; make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls; sustain the economic viability of farm/ranch operations; and enhance the quality of life for farmers/ ranchers and society as a whole (Title XVI, Subtitle A, of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990).
Crop and Soil Sciences faculty collaborate with faculty from many departments on SA research, extension and teaching projects. Our SA faculty focuses on meeting our current and future agricultural needs for food and fiber and protecting or enhancing the natural resources within societal expectations.
The USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE) manages competitive grant programs that provide opportunities for Land-grant University SA programs. N. C. State University SARE project proposals for research, teaching, and outreach evolve with substantive input from farmers, NGOs and collaborating agencies in both planning and implementation. Many of the projects and programs are concentrated at or linked to The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), a 2000-acre research, extension and teaching facility located near Goldsboro, NC.
In 2005, the Agroecology Education Farm started with a vision from Drs. Michelle Schroeder-Moreno, David Orr and Mike Linker to create a space near campus for students and community to learn about sustainable agriculture. Developing this at the Lake Wheeler Field Station near the Historic Yates Mill Park was important to demonstrate sustainable agriculture near a natural area. The Historic Yates Mill Park has been an important supporter for the farm from the beginning, which was dedicated in 2006 by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). Since then, the Department of Crop Science, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) and CALS provided critical support and the farm manager hired in 2015. We partnered with Green Planet Catering 2011-2015 to further develop educational opportunities. In 2013, we began producing for NC State University Dining, one of our strong supporters helping us bring food and agroecology education in the dining halls. In 2015, they supported season extension so we can produce (and educate) even more. Our vision is far more than a “student farm”. Following our Land-grant mission, we want to provide hands-on education in sustainable agriculture and a place where students and community can learn from each other.