Renowned Sustainable Agriculture Expert to Speak at Emory & Henry College
Agricultural scientist Sean Clark, the director of the 500-acre Berea College Farm, will give a lecture at Emory & Henry College Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m. in Wiley Auditorium. The lecture is free to the public.
Clark will discuss his work during the past 12 years to radically change the structure of the Berea College farm toward more sustainable operations. The farm is the longest continuously operating college farm in the United States and serves in both an educational capacity for students and as a production-driven farm that raises and grows products for the local economy.
The Berea College Farm is a diverse assemblage of more than 500 acres of pastures, cropland, gardens and other facilities. Mirroring the trends seen in traditional agriculture in the United States, the farm followed conventional production practices until the late 1990s. At that time, the farm’s main focus was raising cattle for feedlot finishing.
When he became farm director, in keeping with a growing national interest in sustainable agriculture, Clark directed a large-scale transition of the farm, with special attention on smaller livestock herd sizes and reduced dependence on purchased feedstuffs and fertilizers.
The land area devoted to organic practices has grown to more than 100 acres. Farm products now include beef, pork, chicken, eggs, fish, honey, grains and beans, fruits and vegetables as the program shifts toward local marketing and sales. With special emphasis on value-added products, the farm now sells to the college food service for student dining, the local farmers market and a newly opened college farm store.
Clark will review the farm’s successful transition and discuss environmental, social, and financial consequences. His presentation will offer long-term comparisons of conventional and organic production and will describe the development of the College Farm Store, as he outlines a model for building sustainable community food systems for our future.
Clark received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Virginia Tech and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. He conducted research on sustainable agriculture at the University of California at Davis and joined the faculty of Berea College in 1998. He is a member of the faculty of the Agriculture & Natural Resources Program at Berea College and serves as the college farm director.