By Vilina Mehta
Ever wondered why Stanford is affectionately called “The Farm?” Stanford actually has its roots in farming, and the university is located on the old Palo Alto farm of the university founders Leland and Jane Stanford. The Stanfords’ founding grant decreed that “a farm for instruction in agriculture” should forever be maintained on university lands.
A few weeks ago, I took a field trip to the O’Donohue Family Stanford Educational Farm with one of my classes. In the class, we had read a text called “The Gardener’s Year” by Karel Capek, and we drew intriguing conclusions relating gardening to education. For one, much like farmers cultivate gardens on a farm, Stanford cultivates our minds. The copious flowers and little coves of agriculture you see around campus reinforce this notion.
When we visited the farm, we were greeted by a welcoming staff member who showed us around and explained the various crops that were being cultivated. In addition to vegetables and practical crops, various aesthetic flowers are also grown on the farm. Learning about all the biodiversity and viewing the plants that are actually grown to sustain Stanford deepened my gratitude for nature and all it provides. The amount of care, attention and appreciation provided on the Stanford Educational Farm for the cultivated plants is remarkable.
When we discussed the various ways in which parts of the Farm work together to contribute to its well-being—for instance, the chicken eating the worms that could harm the plants, the various plots of land dedicated to different crops or the large oak tree that contributes to the ecosystem—I realized that a lot of effort goes into growing each and every plant on the Farm. Rather than complaining about or trying to avoid the hard work needed to grow the plants, the attitude seemed rather grateful, optimistic and thoughtful about the process of cultivation. After knowing how much effort goes into growing food here at Stanford, each time I get some veggies at the dining hall, I am deeply appreciative.
Overall, taking a class field trip to the Stanford Educational Farm was refreshing and calming. It also reminded me of the importance of appreciating the journey and the process, not just the destination and the outcome, as the farmers put in so much thoughtful effort into cultivating their crops. Next time you are feeling stressed out or just need a quick breather, I highly recommend taking a short trip to the O’Donohue Family Stanford Educational Farm. Trust me, it’s worth it.