Students petition the defunding of Morris Campus Farm
Liberty University students involved with the Morris Campus Farm gathered Feb. 21 in the university’s science hall to write letters of petition to Liberty President Jerry Falwell due to information they had received that the farm may be defunded.
Students are speaking out against the situation in hopes of raising awareness of the farm’s educational opportunities and community involvement, hoping to give it an opportunity to grow.
“I’m trying to gather students who have been positively influenced by the farm or have been there,” Morris Campus Farm student worker Katherine Phillips said.
“(I) just try to let the administration know that this is some place that is extremely important to us.”
The students participating have varying levels of involvement with the campus farm, and some have never been to the site.
In addition to offering reasons to save the farm, Phillips said students offered alternatives to closing down the farm such as connecting the site with the biology department.
Other students suggested raising awareness of the farm’s existence, opportunities and benefits.
To further the cause, several of the students involved in the opposition wrote a petition and are planning to distribute it across campus.
Phillips said supporters of the cause are planning to take the petition to classes and residence halls.
“If students want to send letters to the president, then they have the right to do that,” Louis Cambeletta, vice president of auxiliary services, said in an email.
“We are still working out some details for the farm moving forward, but nothing has been finalized yet.”
Benefits of the Morris Campus Farm extend outside of Liberty’s student body.
In addition to selling food to the university’s dining options, the farm also donates parts of its harvest to local charities such as Lynchburg Daily Bread and Lynchburg Grows.
The food is also sold at the Liberty University Farmer’s Market from April to November.
“I think (the farm) is really important because more and more colleges are offering campus farms,” Ashley Smith, 2015 Liberty graduate and former Morris Campus Farm student worker said.
“(Students) are learning about agriculture, environmental issues and health. … It benefits the whole community. … It helps people who aren’t able to get fresh fruits and vegetables.”
According to Phillips, farming teaches students practical life skills and is a great opportunity for missions.
By learning simple farming methods and basic animal care, students are equipped to care for the earth.
The Morris Campus Farm opened fall 2012, is located on Liberty Mountain and produces seasonal crops such as kale, green beans, sweet potatoes and beets.
The farm officially transitioned from a garden to a farm in 2015 with the addition of chickens and pigs.
Phillips, Smith and others with ties to the Morris Campus Farm are planning to promote the farm’s benefits and hope to give it an opportunity to take root.
“I want to contact everyone I know,” Smith said.
“I want to do anything that I can to help because it (closing the farm) makes me sad. … If I could go back to the farm and help in any way I can. … I’m willing to do that.”