A farm on the Farm
Patrick Archie first became interested in sustainable agriculture during his undergraduate years. During a gap year from college, he traveled through Mexico and Central and South America to Chile, where he got his first taste of farming with a Chilean agroecology development organization working with smallholder farmers. The research and educational farm in Chile practiced low-input, diversified farming, and the experience helped Archie realize agriculture was an important nexus of social and environmental issues.
Since then, he has established urban farms and gardens in the East Bay, an organic nursery and gardens on the former Alameda Naval Air Station, and an educational garden at Santa Clara University – all while teaching at UC Berkeley, SCU, and now Stanford. He has spent his life “thinking about agricultural systems as social systems, and as the opportunity for us to deal with both environmental challenges and social challenges through the design and development of agroecosystems that benefit communities,” he said.
As director of the O’Donohue Family Stanford Educational Farm, Archie was hired in 2011 to help realize students’ dream to have an actual farm on the Farm – and fulfill the vision in Stanford’s founding grant , which decreed that "a farm for instruction in agriculture" should forever be maintained on university lands. He teaches several courses in the Earth Systems Program and has helped establish educational opportunities, field trip programs and research projects to make the farm a space that can be used and appreciated by all students on campus. In additional to serving as a guest lecturer for other courses, Archie especially enjoys teaching Principles and Practices of Sustainable Agriculture during autumn and spring quarters.
“There is so much theory to learn, there’s so much basic science to learn, there’s so much ecology in agroecology. But there’s also a hands-on, experiential component, and I believe that is where people learn – when you combine the experiential with the theoretical,” he said.