New Farm Manager to Join Kenyon

Bethany McCarty, a passionate teacher with deep knowledge and experience of small, organic farms in Central Ohio, will lead the Kenyon Farm into its second decade.

By David Hoyt ’14

Following an extensive search, Kenyon has announced Bethany McCarty as the new manager of the Kenyon Farm. McCarty, who holds a degree in agriscience education from the Ohio State University and has had a variety of professional experiences in farming and agriculture, will join Kenyon later this month.

“Bethany has been around farming for most of her life, and her passion for growing food and sharing that experience with others will be obvious to anyone who spends more than five minutes with her,” said Dave Heithaus ’99, director of the Office of Green Initiatives, which oversees the Kenyon Farm program. “She has a detailed understanding of agriculture from seed to sale. Bethany loves teaching, but will never be convinced that she knows everything, and will be a solid part of the farm community.”

McCarty has most recently worked as the business development manager for New Albany Organics, a farm located in the suburbs between Columbus and Gambier. Previously, she was farm manager at the Procter Center, a retreat, camp and event facility in London, Ohio, that features a six-acre vegetable and livestock farm.

“The farm manager position at Kenyon combines my two passions: education and farming,” McCarty said. “I love teaching others about agriculture because it applies to everyone. I think it’s important for everyone to have an understanding and appreciation for where their food comes from and how our farming practices affect our environment.” 

Located in Gambier within walking distance of Kenyon’s main campus, the Kenyon Farm was established in 2012. It is a 10-acre operation where students experience the full cycle of agriculture, from planting seeds to harvesting crops. Students can work, volunteer and conduct research at the farm, and community members benefit from the sale of fresh produce, eggs and more.

“The Kenyon Farm is such a special place because it teaches students and the community how to farm on a small, practical level while incorporating regenerative and sustainable practices that care for our environment,” McCarty said. “It’s an educational tool for students and the community to learn about agriculture and how they can incorporate it into their daily lives, whether that is composting, planting a small garden or choosing to operate their own production farm after graduation.

“When working on the farm, I want students to gain a comprehensive understanding of all farm operations, from animal care and vegetable production to community relations, marketing and sales,” she added. “All aspects are important in creating a sustainable and successful farm. Not only will students gain hands-on farm experience, but they will have the opportunity to build their resume with skills that are applicable to any career.”

Heithaus led a search committee that included faculty members with expertise in environmental sustainability and agriculture, as well as representatives from Kenyon’s other green centers, such as the Brown Family Environmental Center nature preserve and Philander Chase Conservancy land trust.

“What struck me about Bethany was her willingness to listen and to work through her project goals with the students,” said Associate Professor of History Patrick Bottiger, an expert in agricultural history and the cultivation of corn who served on the search committee. “She put together a very thoughtful list of roles and jobs that our students would perform at the Farm, which showed me that she was prioritizing the role of the student alongside her own job as manager.”

“I appreciated that [McCarty] was thinking of the farm as an operation that should be able to stand on its own, even if, belonging to Kenyon, it doesn’t technically have to,” said Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies Rob Alexander, who has expertise in ecological economics and environmental policy and was also a member of the search committee. 

Alexander was also excited about the Farm’s potential to contribute to Kenyon’s curriculum. “The farm provides opportunities for students in many disciplines to experience a working example of the theoretical ideas we teach about in class,” he said. “When I teach a segment on systems theory in ‘Intro to Environmental Studies,’ I can take students to the farm to see embedded systems in place. The farm can also demonstrate many concepts of ecological principles in practice.”