What We’re About

Legacy. Honor. Dignity. Grit.

The Farm Crew is as old as the College itself – cultivating student leaders, strong work ethics, and the Swannanoa Valley since 1894. National leaders in sustainable agriculture, the Farm Crew manages over 275 rotationally grazed, crop rotated, hillside-to-bottomland, agroecological acres, $240,000 of naturally-raised meats, 65 brood cows, 20 brood sows, 750 broilers, 300 laying hens, 20 ewes, and 1 lovable guard donkey, Lola.

Broken into five sub-crews – General, Cattle and Sheep, Pig, Poultry, and Marketing/Business – the experiences on the Farm Crew are as diverse as they are deep. Whether you’re a future vet, farm manager, agronomist, extension agent, resilient agriculture lobbyist, lawyer, or advocate (or assistant director of admission), the Farm Crew is the perfect incubator.

One thing that I have enjoyed about being on Farm Crew is the passion and energy that every student brings to work. Everyone is excited to take on projects and figure out how to do them right, which fosters an invaluable learning environment. The work is never mundane: the puzzles that we face everyday entertain our lives with necessary and real challenges. In my mind, there is no better way to connect to one’s place than by putting in the effort to grow food holistically and resiliently. All workers, regardless of gender, age, wealth, experience, and background are given agency on the farm which gives them power, confidence, and motivation.

Georgia Ackerman

Working on the farm has taught me how much of a difference it makes when you really love the work that you are doing. Not working just to meet required hours or to earn pay but because you believe in what you’re doing. Taking pride in every project because the thought of contributing to the bigger picture is such an empowering image.

Thomas Smythe

Supervisor Spotlight

Farm Manager, Blair Thompson

Blair spent over 15 years in a diversity of agricultural operations around the country before landing at Warren Wilson. It was while working on these farms that he encountered Warren Wilson graduates and knew the college farm was turning out skilled and passionate land managers. He strives to build students into leaders who have an ecosystems-approach to agriculture that focuses on building farming enterprises suited to each landscape and community. Blair is committed to bringing the classroom into the field, so crew members are able ground their thought in the act of work and are prepared to take the lessons of the college farm into the broader world of food and agriculture.

Learning Outcomes

You’ll spend years working alongside your peers and mentored by supervisors. Part of the experience of work at Warren Wilson is guided critical reflection, which helps ensure that you achieve both your own educational goals as well as our Common Learning Outcomes. These intentional learning outcomes distinguish our work program, giving it focus and relevancy that set it apart from federal work study or your average part-time job. Specifically, our Common Learning Outcomes are:

  • Dependability: reliability, accountability, and the ability to successfully manage your time
  • Integrity: trustworthiness and respect for transparent honesty
  • Initiative: self-control, the ability to evaluate situations, and motivation to carry out responsibilities
  • Analytical Thinking: working with available resources to creatively address issues and solve problems
  • Communication: the ability to convey information effectively and build community with others
  • Collaboration: collaborate with peers to achieve common goals
  • Appreciation of the Value of All Work: an understanding of your place in the working world, and a respect for the dignity of all work

Learning and Performance Goals

In addition to our Common Learning Outcomes, each crew in the Work Program identifies crew-specific goals for learning and performance. These are reviewed with you each semester. The Learning and Performance Goals outline skills and abilities the supervisor will teach during the semester.

Some of the many learning opportunities on the Farm Crew include:

  • Caring for, feeding, and moving roughly 65 brood cows, 20 brood sows, 750 broilers, 300 laying hens
  • Planting and harvesting corn, barley , and hay crops
  • Fence repair
  • Renovating and restoring farm buildings
  • Maintenance of the farm’s tractors and equipment
  • Marketing approximately $240,000 worth of naturally-raised meats and other products sold locally each year
  • Mastery of current sustainable agriculture techniques
  • Crop and pasture management, on-farm experimentation,
  • Local farm visits, and participation at agriculture conferences
  • Veterinary experience: delivering animals, giving shots, diagnosing and solving health problems, and administering medicine.