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Source: College Rank news release

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The addition of farms to college campuses has grown over the past decade, and the reasons for this growth are as varied as college farms themselves. Farm-to-table meals at restaurants are becoming increasingly popular, requiring many students in the food industry to need some background in agriculture, sustainability, and food production.

Today's college farms are not simply research facilities as they have been in the past. College farms provide students with hands-on experience in the growth of crops and animals. Students are able to learn more about how plants thrive, what can damage their growth and how best to maximize yield in a crop. The life-cycle of animals is demonstrated first-hand, providing information for all types of career paths, including veterinary medicine and pharmaceutical development.

Campus farms also provide benefits to the community. Although the main purpose of a campus farm is for students to learn, they also provide opportunities for student organizations, many of which serve the community that surrounds the campus. Some campuses arrange for tables at local farmers' markets where students can sell the fresh produce or other products produced by the farm, allowing them to build networks within the community that can help further them in their careers.

There is ample research to indicate that spending time in green space restores mental clarity and refocuses attention. Gardening and managing animals has long been known to reduce anxiety and depression. It has also helped many hospital patients recover quickly. Farms provide a powerful social atmosphere, giving participants ownership in what is produced.

Sustainability is a big factor in environmental concerns today. More people are seeking ways to sustain quality of living while reducing their carbon footprint. Campus farms provide insight into ways to live a more healthy, frugal and natural lifestyle, making a college farm beneficial for students studying nutrition, sports medicine and other human health programs.

These 35 college farms are considered the top ranking in the United States. The farm integrates well with students on campus, providing all students with the opportunity to benefit from the farm. In addition, they are strongly integrated into the community with students interacting with local citizens as part of their education in a way that may not be possible without the farm. The farms are sustainable, and each of them has courses taught directly on the farm, not just in a classroom.

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