Learning on the Farm

The Sustainable Development Teaching and Research Farm is a student and faculty-powered operation that offers students an opportunity to immerse themselves into a living lab. The goal of the SD Farm is to become a multi-purpose, integrated farming system that produces healthy food, fiber, and other raw materials that can be cultivated successfully on a small scale.

Labs are held for several of the Agroecology courses during ASU's Fall and Spring semesters and two practicum sessions are held during the summer. The students in the labs and practicum learn to cooperate in teams to execute a task on the farm, simultaneously applying what they have learned in the classroom and gaining valuable hands-on experience in agricultural skills.
Other departments and programs from Appalachian State University have made use of the SD Farm as an outdoor laboratory as well. The Appropriate Technology program and the ASU Renewable Energy Initiative installed photovoltaic and thermal solar panels on the student farmhouse, making it almost fully solar-powered. Our goal is to have the entire farm be off the grid and powered from renewable sources of energy. Building Science students designed and built our outdoor pavilion and equipment storage shed. Other departments have worked to manage historical preservation of structures and farming artifacts.

The SD Farm is an excellent opportunity for ASU students across many departments to gain real world perspective. It is a unique and productive part of the Sustainable Development Department. The students' involvement in practical crop and livestock research, sustainable forest management, and residency program is a great asset to their education.

student pushing wagon at farm building at the farm mini green house

Class Labs Held On Farm

  • Farm Ops I and II
  • Ecological Pest Management
  • Agroecology Practicum
  • Sawmilling
  • Low Fossil Farming

Farm Staff

  • Todd Rudicill, Interim Farm Manager
  • Christof den Biggelaar, Professor of Agroecology
  • Anne Fanatico, Professor of Livestock Management and Farm Business Management


Dr. Richard Rheingans, Chair
Sustainable Development Department
Living Learning Center

Sandy Wilson
Administrative Assistant

QEP Global Learning