Join Willamette University’s Summer Institute at Zena Farm in Salem, OR



May 20 – June 28, 2013

We are pleased to announce the fourth year of our Summer Institute in Sustainable Agriculture at Willamette University’s Zena Farm just 10 miles west of Salem, OR.  The program will take place from May 20-June 28, 2013.  It provides students from liberal arts colleges and non-agricultural majors from larger institutions the opportunity to pursue both hands-on organic farming experience and interdisciplinary academic coursework that examines the ecological, social, economic, and ethical implications of agricultural systems in the US, while living in a sustainable community in the heart of the Willamette Valley.

The courses offered for academic credit are:  Perspectives on Sustainable Agriculture, a class that examines the ethical, economic, and social implications of different agricultural practices through a historic lens; and Agroecology, a class that investigates farming from an agroecological perspective.  These classes are taught in the mornings (MWF or TTH) by Willamette faculty members in a 1910 farmhouse located on the site.  We will be happy to work with your home institution to arrange the transfer of credits.


Farming experience:
Each afternoon participate in discussions about the underlying logic of organic agriculture methods and put those philosophies to practice with hands on work in our fields. Students will receive instruction all aspects of organic farming from seeding to harvesting.  Topics will include every thing from making compost, to applying amendments, to balancing crops with beneficial plants to create a healthy agroecosystem, to cover cropping and crop rotation, to planting, tilling, harvesting, and marketing.


NEW for the 2013 program:  Starting a campus farm workshops:

Students from other colleges who are hoping to start a campus farm, or who are in the early stages, will have the opportunity to participate in a few evening workshops on planning a campus farm, interacting with administration, funding, bookkeeping, and marketing strategies.

Workshops in whole food preparation and preservation:
We make most of what we eat from scratch!  Learn everything from how to make homemade bread and pasta and granola, to cook with whole grains and dry beans, to make your own cheese and crackers, to canning beans and jams.


Fieldtrips to understand our local food system:
We will visit local organic vegetable farms, Salatin-style grass-fed animal operations, a “shelf-ready” food processing facility, local farmers markets and supermarkets, to explore the components of a local ‘sustainable’ food system.

photo perseph in a line

Recreational opportunities:
The site of this program is the 305-acre Zena Forest, which boasts many acres of Douglas fir forest, oak savannahs, and riparian zones.  In addition, five acres of the property is either farm fields or orchards.  Students who attend the summer program will experience country life as they live on site in the 1910 farmhouse.  Additionally, students will be able to run or hike the trails in the adjacent forests or take forays into town.

Sightseeing trips:
Additional (optional) trips to the nearby Cascade Mountains or Oregon Coast will be
offered on two Sundays during the program and students will be free to explore the region on their own.


Program cost:
The cost of the program is $3800, which includes tuition, lodging, meals, medical insurance, and field trips to local farms.  Additional costs could include transportation to and from your hometown, side trips taken during the session, costs of personal items such as work boots or a sleeping bag, admission to state and national parks, and extra spending money.

Visit our website at for more
information about Zena Farm.  To download a pdf of the application to our program, visit

Deadline to apply:

March 15, 2013


Please contact Dr. Jennifer Johns at with questions.

Jennifer Johns, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Sustainable Agriculture Programs
Center for Sustainable Communities
Willamette University