Dear Friends of the Berea College Farm,

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Photo by Matt’s wife, Meg Wilson Photography.

For those of you that keep up with us on our facebook page, we recently posted about the pending departure of Matt Wilson, our Organic Farming Coordinator. Matt graduated from the Berea College Agriculture & Natural Resources (ANR) program in 2009, returned to work for us in 2011, and has worn many hats in the interim. The most prominent hat he adorns is featured on the shelves at the Berea College Farm Store every day. Certified organic wheat, corn, oats, beans, and rye have become staples in local kitchens and almost all of the fresh-baked goods we sell at the store contain at least one of these key ingredients.

There are also many behind the scenes activities for which Matt is an integral part, but they don’t very often make it into the spotlight. Since much of the work that Matt does requires the use of tractors, anyone familiar with farming might understand that at least half the job of operating such equipment is spent on repair and maintenance. You’re just as likely to find him turning wrenches as plowing fields, but both are necessary for bringing heritage grains to your table.

Just as necessary as fixing and using the tractor is fueling the tractors, so Matt has also spent his time training students to operate the biodiesel processor. This machine has allowed us to offset some of our diesel usage by turning waste vegetable oil into tractor fuel. The system was donated to us from the Loyola University biodiesel program for educational purposes and the ANR program has now passed it on to the Laurel County African American Heritage Center, a partner of Grow Appalachia.

In addition to his primary duties associated with the college farm, Matt has also been able pursue some of his other interests while working with us. These interests include assisting with our apiary and working on an agroforestry project that would incorporate fruit and nut trees in our pastures that have the potential to feed humans and livestock in an integrated system. It is Matt’s constant curiosity and drive to improve on-farm efficiency that has now led him to the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where he’ll be working towards is masters in Crop Science researching Agroforestry for Food.

On behalf of the Berea College Farm and the Agriculture & Natural Resources program, we thank Matt for his contributions to our local food landscape and wish him all the best as he broadens his horizons. If you or someone you know thinks they can fill Matt’s boots as Organic Farming Coordinator, online applications are available here.

Until next time, eat well!

Jessa Turner – Manager