A new understanding and appreciation for the marvel of growing things”: exploring the college farm’s contribution to transformative learning

Author ORCID Identifier

Amanda GreenORCID iD iconhttps://orcid.org/0000-0003-3476-6461


Language and Cultural Studies, Anthropology, and Sociology

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Campus farms and gardens can play a vital role in offering experiential and transformative learning opportunities for students in higher education. Many faculty believe that experiential education in food systems can establish students’ commitment to sustainability and social justice. In this paper, I evaluate the impact that experiential learning on a college farm has on achieving a course’s learning outcomes as well as the goal of encouraging students to transform the food system. Students in the course Food & Sustainability labored in the food system, and they recorded their activities and reflections in a farm journal. Using qualitative coding, I developed themes from their farm journals to determine if and how students achieved specific learning outcomes as well as transformative thinking. Analysis of their journals demonstrates that experiential learning augments theoretical learning, and it also includes unexpected benefits such as interpersonal connections with natural worlds and community. On the other hand, transformative thinking and action were more limited in students’ reflections, thus corroborating previous research on critical food literacy, food citizenship, and food justice studies. This study suggests that if faculty aim for transformative education, they must make transformation a specific learning outcome and integrate it into course requirements.

Journal Title

Food, Culture, & Society

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