Philosophy and Vision
Located on the grounds at Retreat & Ecology Campus in Woodstock, Ill., the Loyola Student Farm is dedicated to farming practices that promote healthy ecological relationships. We seek to explore, experiment, and innovate in order to achieve economic, environmental, and social sustainability in a replicable manner. We are committed to responsible agricultural practices that are focused on the quality of life for all components of the farm—from the bacteria in the soil to our neighbors below us in the watershed.
Since industrialization, much of our agricultural wisdom has been replaced by fossil-fueled machines. We seek to combine today’s technological innovations (such as our solar-powered electric fence) with ancient traditions (such as cutting grain with scythes) in a meld that is sustainable and synergistic.
One of our main objectives is to make the Loyola Student Farm a self-contained entity, integrating livestock, grain, fruit, vegetables, fungi, the natural ecosystem, and humans to create and protect the balance of life that is just as much about sweat, pain, and hard work as it is about peace, health, and rebirth.
The Loyola Student Farm is a student-run business, and even while it is maintained as such, the use of the farm as an educational space for experimentation, research, and learning remains. Interns and students who live and work at the Retreat & Ecology Campus have the opportunity to form a direct relationship with their food through one-on-one experiential learning in a natural setting. They participate in the farm to table experience daily, as their field work is harvested, processed, and prepared into their nourishment and health.
Through courses in ecology, biology, and sustainable agriculture, the relationship between humans and their environment is explored in depth. Just as the food grows in the field, students flourish into their new life-style, changing the way they think about food, business, community, and the environment.
The Loyola Student Farm was founded in the summer of 2011 by Loyola faculty member Adam Schubel. With his guidance as the farm’s “lead learner” (as opposed to “manager”), the first ground was plowed and Adam and five student interns set forth with the task of growing fruits and vegetables for the Retreat & Ecology Campus. That summer laid the foundation for the Student Farm philosophy and vision, and a culture of sustainable agriculture was created. The interns worked together to create chicken coops, sheds, an apiary, and a large and beautiful garden. All of the interns also took a Sustainable Agriculture course, taught by Adam, which aided their understanding of agricultural practice and sparked their creativity and interest.
In July of 2011, Adam and his wife took leave from their positions at Loyola and went to Mexico to work for the Peace Corps. Adam left the interns in charge, thus birthing the Loyola Student Farm.
The farm currently operates under the direction of former Loyola Student Farm interns who have taken time away from school to run the farm.