What You’ll Study

Our Sustainable Agriculture and Food Studies program is in-depth and interdisciplinary. Not only will it uniquely prepare you for a career in farm management, non-profit leadership, research, cooperative extension, veterinary medicine, and advocacy — it will enable you to literally sow the seeds of a better world.

You’ll study the principles and practices of four approaches to sustainable agriculture: certified organic, biodynamic, biointensive, and permaculture. Our entire campus becomes your laboratory. Learn and experiment with the College’s own food system, from the College Farm and Garden to Gladfelter Cafeteria and Cowpie Cafe and finally to the Composting Facility. You’ll push your limits on a capstone project involving original research with faculty guidance on a topic of your choosing from soil carbon dynamics and mycoremediation to nitrogen fixation and nutrient cycling.

The level of complexity of our farming operations is well beyond that of a typical college farm, and the commitment our students show to mastering these complex tasks is inspiring. Spanning 365 days each year – in all weather and all times of day and night – Warren Wilson students are doing the things that make our farm a leader in higher education.

Chase Hubbard '95, former Farm Manager

Get Your Hands Dirty

Your major will involve hands-on learning, both on our Farm or Garden Crew and through an internship with an established sustainable commercial farm. You can manage a farm business, build fence lines, birth calves, manage an apiary, and learn countless other skills. Study the history of land use at the College, in continuous operation and cultivation since 1894 — the best college farm in the nation. Specialize in cattle and sheep, pigs and poultry, business management, beekeeping, draught horse maintenance, or herbalism on the Farm or Garden Crew. You even have the opportunity to apply your knowledge during study-abroad courses in Cuba and Malta.

Change the World, One Crop at a Time

Learning sustainable agriculture at Warren Wilson will broaden your horizons to the many social and ethical impacts that food production can have. As part of our Community Engagement Commitment, you can collaborate with local and regional organizations committed to the building of a sustainable and resilient food system. Here are a few of our community partners:

  • Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
  • Organic Growers School
  • Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project
  • Buncombe County Beekeepers Chapter
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Buncombe County Soil and Water
  • NC State’s Amazing Grazing program
  • King’s Agriseeds
  • Hickory Nut Gap Farm
  • A Growing Culture
  • Mother Earth News Fair

Explore Classes in This Program

ENS 249

Introduction to Sustainable Agriculture

Explore the sustainability of contemporary farming systems through study of the history of food production in the United States and the development of ecological agriculture. You’ll learn about the rise of industrial and ecological forms of U.S. agriculture in the 20th century and consider the ethical, economic, ecological, and social dimensions of agricultural sustainability. The principles and practices of four distinctive methods of ecological agriculture – certified organic, biodynamic, biointensive, and permaculture – are investigated as examples of systems of food production that may be sustainable.

ENS 341


Get introduced to the science of agroecology with a focus on the principles and practices of ecological crop and livestock production. You’ll apply basic ecological concepts to assess the structure and function of soil, plant, animal, and pest processes in agricultural systems and practice the use of adaptive management strategies and sustainable decision-making to enhance agroecosystem resilience.

ENS 440

Sustainable Farm Management

Learn the principles and practices of sustainable farm management using a whole farm planning perspective and adaptive management strategies. You’ll develop an understanding of sustainable farm management at the individual farm scale by completing a five-year start-up plan for a new farm business using whole farm planning principles: goal setting, resource assessment, enterprise analysis, goal-directed crop and livestock production, and marketing and monitoring system performance with sustainability indicators.

Meet Our Faculty

I believe my responsibility is not only as an instructor but as a mentor and a resource for the future. My classes are not just an experience with a grade; they are an opportunity to build social capital.

Joshua Earl Arnold, Ph.D.
Joshua Earl Arnold, Ph.D.
Faculty Member Liz Benavides stands smiling outside of Orr Cottage.

At Warren Wilson, I have most enjoyed learning from my students as much as I am teaching them. Their wealth of experiences has not only been valuable in my lessons, but I have learned so much from them as well!

Liz Benavides, Ph.D.
Faculty Member Liz Benavides stands smiling outside of Orr Cottage.
Liz Benavides, Ph.D.
Aerial Landscape - Jones Mountain, Farm, and Garden
Fieldwork Profile

Nationally Recognized College Farm

Our college farm is recognized regionally and nationally as an outdoor classroom that delivers real-world experience in sustainable farming practices.

  • Best College Reviews rated us at the top of their list of 20 college farms.
  • The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources named us Conservation Farm Family of the Year in the Mountain Region.
  • We’ve been recognized as a “River Friendly Farmer” by Buncombe County’s Soil and Water board.
  • We received the national Campus Sustainability Achievement Award from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
  • Selected by the organization Sustainable North Carolina as recipient of the N.C. Sustainability Award, in the Environmental Stewardship category.

The list goes on…