Growing Sustainable Food and Farming Efforts on College Campuses

Several insights have come to light about the ways in which the Endowment has funded and supported this effort, and about the ways the colleges and universities have seized opportunities to work together.


  • Because each school has an equal share of funding available for food and farming efforts, rather than competing for shared funds, each campus has been able to focus on areas of greatest interest to them. This reduced sense of competition allows each school to think creatively, share openly with each other and collaborate freely.  
  • The Endowment asked for collaboration between campuses where possible, but did not demand it. However, campuses frequently have collaborated in courses, curricula, surveys and research. They have developed open and ongoing relationships with one another that extend far beyond Duke Endowment convenings, and each has a greater awareness of what is going on in the field.
  • Although the four colleges and universities are quite different, they have learned a great deal from one another and gained new perspectives — and can now identify similarities they didn’t recognize before.
  • Food is a fundamental issue that appeals to many students. When institutions of higher education embrace food issues and incorporate them into curriculum, research and campus life, they are helping future leaders and citizens understand where food comes from, its impact on the environment and society, and what it takes to produce it in a sustainable way.


On campuses:

  • CSAs have served more than 320 people
  • Campus farms produce more than 4,000 pounds of produce for campus dining services each year
  • All four campuses are working to receive STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System) certifications from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), and have conducted a joint session at an AASHE conference. Furman currently holds a gold STARS rating.

On academics:

  • Academic rigor around food and farming studies, including student research, has increased at each campus as evidenced by incorporation of food and farming into nearly 60 courses, and new majors and minors focused on food sustainability.
  • More than 30 student and faculty research projects have taken place or are currently underway.
  • Participating schools have presented their sustainability work at several academic conferences. 

On communities:

  • Community outreach has increased, as seen in Furman’s research with local farmers, CSAs at all campuses, internships and work with community groups. 
  • More than a half-dozen community internships are connected to campus food and farming programs.
  • Campuses have hosted or presented to community members through numerous workshops or other community events. 


Area of Work

  • Campus and community engagement

Program Area

  • Higher Education

Grantmaking Status

The Endowment is continuing to work through current grantees and is not accepting new applications.

Areas of Work

  • Prevention and early intervention for at-risk children

    To equip children and families with skills to ensure that children reach developmental milestones to lead successful lives.

  • Out-of-home care for youth

    To drive child welfare systems toward greater accountability for child well-being.

  • Quality and safety of health care

    Improving the quality and safety of health care delivery

  • Access to health care

    Improving health by increasing access to comprehensive care

  • Prevention

    Expanding programs to promote health and prevent disease

  • Academic excellence

    Enhancing academic excellence through program and campus development

  • Educational access and success

    Increasing educational access and supporting a learning environment that promotes achievement

  • Campus and community engagement

    Promoting a culture of service, collaboration and engagement among schools and communities

  • Rural church development

    Building the infrastructure and capacity of United Methodist churches to enhance ministry and mission

  • Clergy leadership

    Strengthening United Methodist churches by improving the quality and effectiveness of church leadership

  • Congregational outreach

    Engaging United Methodist congregations in programs that serve their communities