Farm & Food

Through our campus farm and dining services, Mills is advancing a variety of food-related sustainability initiatives. 

What We're Doing

Mills is advancing a variety of food-related sustainability initiatives through our campus farm and dining services practices.

Mills Community Farm

The Mills Community Farm is a 2.5-acre working farm that practices sustainable farming and provides urban agriculture education in collaboration with students, faculty, staff, local organizations, and Oakland schools. We provide produce to campus dining services and sell produce on campus at a weekly farm stand as well as to local restaurants.  We also teach students the practice of sustainable urban agriculture through our course, Campus Farm Practicum.

Farm Origins

In 2010, a graduate student proposed creating a campus farm that would produce food for campus dining services and engage with academic learning. Mills students began advocating for the farm, and the idea gained traction with campus operations and administration. Once a 2.5-acre site on campus was identified on campus, students developed a small garden plot. The five-year master plan for the farm, completed in March 2015, includes the following vision statement:

"The Mills Community Farm will become a widely known and valuable campus and community meeting place, a place that demonstrates the values of Mills College—leadership, social justice, and equity—in practical and replicable ways. It will be a welcoming community hub, one that invites all neighbors to join in the creation and operation of the farm and to celebrate growing and eating nutritious food together. It will be an active farm hub, employing progressive, financially viable, and sustainable approaches to farm planning, operations, harvesting, and distribution. The farm will provide healthy food to Mills College and the surrounding community. It will be a learning hub, hosting formal and informal education and research opportunities for Mills students, faculty, and the surrounding community. It is in the overlap of the three hubs that the farm will create a unique experience, a ‘living lab’ for growing healthy food, deepening knowledge, and building community solidarity."

An ongoing engagement with the farm’s evolving campus and community stakeholders will continue to hone and inform the farm’s future planning and implementation. 

Dining

Bon Appétit—our campus food service provider—is a leader in sustainability among its peers. Food is sourced from small, owner-operated farms and ranches (including the Mills Community Farm) as much as possible. At least 20 percent of food is purchased within a 150-mile radius of Mills College. A map of where the food at Mills comes from is available here. Additional sustainable purchasing initiatives include serving only rBGH-free milk, cage-free eggs, and pork that was not raised with gestation crates. Leftover food is donated to Chefs to End Hunger, a nonprofit that redistributes recovered food to local food agencies. Information about additional efforts to improve dining sustainability, including purchasing organic and seasonal foods, can be found on the Bon Appétit website.

What You Can Do

  • Volunteer at the farm to help weed, grow seeds, plant beds, harvest produce, and compost. We'll send you home with a fresh bouquet of flowers and harvested food! Contact Farm Manager Julia Dashe to get involved.
  • Enroll in the Campus Farm Practicum and learn about food justice and the practical skills of urban agriculture. You'll gain academic credit and real-world knowledge about sustainable food production.
  • Learn more about where your food comes from and the resources used to produce it. Eat more foods that minimize environmental impact, such as organic, plant-based, and less processed foods, and that maximize positive societal impacts like supporting small businesses within your community.
  • Reduce the amount of food you waste. There are many possible strategies, including designating a part of your fridge for foods to eat first (that are soonest to spoil). More tips and resources are available on the Bay Area Recycling Outreach Coalition's website.