Story+ 2021 | What This Land Has Seen: The Past and Future of the Duke Campus Farm

Story+ 2021 | What This Land Has Seen: The Past and Future of the Duke Campus Farm

Learn more about Story+:

More than ten years ago, Duke undergraduate students founded the Duke Campus Farm ( in a rural area seven miles from main campus, in the Duke Forest. Their primary aim was to provide themselves and others with direct experience of the joys and hard work of growing real food. Over the last decade, the farm has evolved from a student-led interest group into a more fully-fledged university program with a broader mission: to catalyze positive change in the food system. As we imagine a (mostly likely virtual) celebration of the ten-year anniversary of our program, we want to mark the evolution of DCF and its impact on students, and offer appreciation to all those in the Duke and Durham communities whose brains and brawn built our current operation.

“What This Land Has Seen” brought this team together around a central question: how can we tell the multiple histories of the Duke Campus Farm? The researchers brought their diverse experience with food studies, cultural anthropology, documentary studies, environmental science, science communication, agriculture, and community care to their exploration of DCF’s archive. They conducted interviews with past and present DCF crew members, undergraduate Duke Immerse alumni and DCF student volunteers, and experts like soil scientist Dan Richter.

Finally, they pointed to potential next steps based on their research findings this summer, including: more hands-on programming; a centralized location for student projects; and relationship-building with community history holders, the Occaneechi Saponi (, and migrant farmworkers (

Story+ is a 6-week summer research experience for Duke undergraduates interested in exploring humanities research approaches (archival research, oral histories, narrative analysis, visual analysis, and more). The program combines research with an emphasis on storytelling for different public audiences. In Story+, students are organized into small project teams and have the opportunity to participate in a flexible mini “curriculum” on research methods and storytelling strategies. Team projects may be led by Duke faculty, Duke librarians, or non-profit organizations, and will be supervised on a day-to-day basis by graduate student mentors.