Who We Are and What We Do
The Merry Lea Sustainable Farm is an educational, demonstration, and experimental farm specializing in perennial agriculture, carbon farming, regenerative agriculture, social & environmental justice, food literacy, reintegrating crops and animals on the farm, and environmental education.
Our #3 nationally-ranked college farm is set within a 100-acre landscape that includes pastures, woods, prairie, wetland, orchards, vegetable gardens, and a historic farmstead. Students gain experience with annual vegetables, fruit and nut orchards and livestock. One unique feature is a 5.5-acre Woody Perennial Polyculture mixed crop and animal system. The farm supplies food to local food pantries, Merry Lea programs, the Goshen College dining services, and a student CSA.
Curricularly, the farm serves the Agroecology Summer Intensive, Merry Lea’s PreK-12 programs, the Masters in Environmental Education program, public programs, and the wider community. The farm is located just south of Wolf Lake, IN in a part of northeast Indiana affected significantly by glaciation. As a result, our soils and surrounding ecosystems are diverse and quite interesting! We welcome you to come visit.
We grow a diversity of crops and it seems like the list grow more every year! More traditional vegetables and herbs grown have included various salad greens, basil, beans (snap and dry), beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, cilantro, collard greens, cucumber, daikon radish, dill, eggplant, fennel, garlic, ground cherry, hyssop, kale, leeks, lovage, melons, mint, nasturtium, okra, onion, parsley, peppers, popcorn, potatoes, pumpkin, rutabaga, summer squash, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, tomato, tomatillo, turnip, winter squash, and zucchini. We grow mostly heirloom crop varieties and raise crops with organic practices though are not currently certified. Much of our produce is consumed by students or direct marketed in small quantities. We try our best to do some seed saving, and to raise seed types that reflect crops grown by native peoples of our region.
We are often experimenting with small plantings of more unusual crops, and some with small grains. This has included sorghum (sweet), heirloom spring barley, rice (Japanese variety), spring oats, jute, various flowers, and many species of cover crops. Our perennial plantings also include a wide variety of species, including apple, pear, cherry, plum, pawpaw, peach, persimmon, northern apricot, pecan, chestnut, serviceberry, blackberry, asparagus, raspberry, grape, and hardy kiwi.
Part of our mission is bring animals back to the farm and integrate them as part of crop production. We currently raise turkeys, meat chickens, laying hens, milk goats, meat goats, cattle, honey bees, pigs, and millions of soil microbes, beneficial insects, etc.
The main infrastructure of our farm, including our offices, are located at Rieth Village, located off of CR 200 S (Bear Lake Rd.). Production fields are adjacent to woodlands, meadows and wetlands, which are filled with beneficial insects, bats, and songbirds, all of which we encourage in our agroecosystem.