Yale Sustainable Food Project

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Yale Sustainable Food Program
Formation 2001
Type Non-profit organization
Mark Bomford
Parent organization
Yale University
Website Yale Sustainable Food Program

Yale University's Sustainable Food Program (YSFP) serves as a hub for the study of food systems at Yale. Founded as the Yale Sustainable Food Project in 2001, the YSFP now runs two campus teaching farms, supports a range of different curricular and extra-curricular study opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students, and offers a fellowship program for international and professional experience for Yale students.


In 2001, Yale students, faculty, and staff, President Richard Levin, and chef Alice Waters founded the YSFP with a focus on launching a sustainable dining program. The YSFP's pilot sustainable dining program at Berkeley College received accolades from the Wall Street Journal[1][2] as the best college dining hall in the country. The popularity of the YSFP's sustainable menus at Berkeley led students enrolled at other Colleges to forge IDs to enter, as described in the New York Times article, "A Dining Hall Where Students Sneak In."[3] The success of the Berkeley dining hall pilot led to the growth of sustainable dining options across the university, culminating in the establishment of Yale Dining in 2007.

Responding to student demand following the establishment of the Berkeley College pilot project, the YSFP gradually added a range of opportunities for both study and practice in the field of sustainable food. Today, the YSFP works on Yale's two teaching farms, in the classroom, and around the world. Coordinates: 41°19′14″N 72°55′17″W / 41.3205°N 72.9213°W / 41.3205; -72.9213

Mission statement[edit]

"On the farm, in the classroom, and around the world, the Yale Sustainable Food Program grows food literate leaders."[4]

The Sustainable Food Program stewards two small farms for learning and research, one on Yale’s main campus and the other at Yale’s West Campus. It supports both curricular and extra-curricular learning, and serves as a hub to connect Yale’s students to opportunities for study and practice in food, health, and the environment.

The Farms[edit]

Yale's main campus teaching farm, established in 2003, operates on a 1-acre (4,000 m2) plot located on the William Whitman Farnam Memorial Gardens on Edwards Street between Prospect Street and Whitney Avenue in New Haven, Connecticut. The West Campus Urban Farm was established in 2012 on a 0.5-acre (2,000 m2) plot, and is gradually expanding its management to include agroforestry practices on adjacent land. The agricultural areas of both teaching farms are stewarded to meet or exceed the standards required for organic certification, though neither farm has been formally certified. Both farms specialize in intensive mixed vegetable production using many of the practices popularized by growers such as Eliot Coleman and Jean-Martin Fortier. Harvests from the farm are sold by students at the Wooster Square Saturday farmers market, to New Haven restaurants, and are used as ingredients for special campus events in partnership with Yale Dining. Both farms feature perennial agroforestry areas, orchards, and honeybee hives. The West Campus Farm includes a mushroom cultivation operation and the Main Campus Farm is home to a rotationally grazed poultry flock.

Throughout the school year, both farms host volunteer workdays for students and the community. Pizza from the Yale Farm's hearth oven is served to volunteers after Friday workdays. Yale Professors from several departments use both farms for their teaching and research, and teachers from New Haven schools bring their classes for lessons in ecology, science, and food production. During the summers, undergraduate and graduate interns and research assistants link farm work to their term-time studies and research projects. Each spring and autumn, new students gather around the hearth oven to share pizza during Bulldog Days and before leaving on pre-orientation trips in the fall.

In the Classroom[edit]

The Sustainable Food Program is an integral part of the academic experience at Yale. Since its founding, there has been a proliferation of classes related to food and agriculture at both at Yale College and in the graduate and professional schools. For undergraduates interested in rigorous academic study of food, agriculture, and sustainability, the Environmental Studies major now offers a concentration in Sustainable Agriculture. For those with a focus in other fields, the YSFP is frequently the subject of student papers, projects, and theses in a variety of disciplines including psychology, literature, and economics. Students can count on several dozen courses from myriad disciplines to focus on the connections between food, the environment, health, politics, and the global economy.

Throughout the year, public lectures by guest speakers join with culinary workshops and film screenings to offer the Yale and New Haven community a chance to learn more about food and farming. Past speakers have included chefs Alice Waters and Jacques Pepin, authors Wendell Berry, Eric Schlosser, and Michael Pollan, architect Bill McDonough, and food scientist Harold McGee. Culinary workshops at the Yale Farm and in residential college kitchens provide hands-on opportunities for students to learn the art and practice of skills like bread making, fruit preservation, and lacto-fermentation. Films offer another way for people to learn about food and agriculture; past films shown at the Whitney Humanities Center have included King Corn and Black Gold.

Around the World[edit]

In 2014, the YSFP launched its Global Food Fellows program. The program offers competitive travel awards for Yale students to study innovative food system projects internationally.


  1. ^ http://www.yaledailynews.com/article.asp?AID=20798
  2. ^ Bhatia, Pooja (November 8, 2002). "College Cafeteria Food Hits New Heights With Etouffee". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 2011-02-13. 
  3. ^ Leigh Cowan, Alison (May 10, 2005). "A Dining Hall Where Students Sneak In". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ http://sustainablefood.yale.edu/about-us/mission

External links[edit]