Agroecology Summer Intensive


The Agroecology Summer Intensive (ASI) is a residential program based at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center’s Sustainable Farm. Students live, work, eat, and play together in an immersive residential learning community housed within our LEED platinum certified cottages at Rieth Village.

This ten-week summer intensive is the keystone of the new major in Sustainable Food Systems and the Sustainable Food Systems minor, but is open to students of all majors and welcomes students from other colleges who can transfer earned credits to their home institutions.  Applications are accepted through March 31.  

The Agroecology Summer Intensive is a program focusing on sustainable agriculture with emphasis on interconnected systems and interdisciplinary learning, making the ASI program broadly relevant. Agroecology is an important part of the growing effort to make human activities more compatible with natural ecosystems. ASI students not only learn about growing food, but also gain practical life skills while engaging in interdisciplinary, culturally-rich learning.  Not only will students learn science concepts, students will also learn about cooking, nutrition, social systems, and the economy of food and farming!

Watch Video

Professor Jon Zirkle introduces the Agroecology Summer Intensive and the need for sustainable agriculture.

Program Description

Living at Merry Lea for the summer is an adventure. Sustainable living at Rieth Village is an important part of the educational experience. Students live in a LEED-certified eco-village sharing meals, working and studying together daily. Throughout the program, students will interact with peers from Goshen College and other institutions, and engage with program faculty, staff, Merry Lea Sustainable Farm interns, and volunteers who may be local to the area or from other regions or even countries. Weekly integrative sessions include regional travel to a variety of farms and food-related enterprises.

ASI students tending the Merry Lea sustainable farm.

Students will not only gain a greater understanding of ecosystem functions, but will also be exposed to a wide a range of agricultural production practices. The ASI program also explores social and economic systems and allows students to participate in agricultural management and decision making processes. Students will experience life in an academic community and have the opportunity to explore the intersection of faith, environment and agriculture.

Participants leave the ASI at Merry Lea better equipped for lives of thought and purpose in their homes, communities and world. Many have gone on to pursue careers in small-scale farming, work for hunger relief organizations, serve overseas in development-related projects, enroll in graduate programs in various environmental fields, including law, or return to family farms. Others pursue careers unrelated to agriculture but garden at home and/or contribute to community gardens.

We welcome you to our next Agroecology Summer Intensive! To take the next step and learn more about the application process, contact John Mischler:

John Mischler

ASI Program Director

To learn more about the vegetable production, soils, agroecology, and small farm management and marketing courses, see the Agroecology Summer Intensive course listings.

Agroecology News & Events

Find your Passion

An alumnus tells the story of how the Agroecology Summer Intensive helped him find his passion in life: sustainable farming.

Request Information

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • By submitting this form, I give permission for my form submission and visit to this website to be tracked, to have the data I provided and information about my browser stored, and for this information to be shared with select third parties as outlined in the Privacy Policy.

Faculty & Staff

John Mischler

Assistant Professor of Sustainability and Environmental Education & Director of ASI

Ruth Mischler

Assistant Professor of Sustainability and Environmental Education

Tom Hartzell

Merry Lea Coordinator for Residential Programs & Environmental Educator

Kaeli Evans

Merry Lea Farm Manager