Blue Devil of the Week: Growing Knowledge at Duke Campus Farm

Saskia Cornes takes an intellectual approach to agriculture

Saskia Cornes oversees the Duke Campus Farm, which grows a variety of produce year round. Photo by Bryan Roth.
Saskia Cornes oversees the Duke Campus Farm, which grows a variety of produce year round. Photo by Bryan Roth.

“By some estimations – there was a United Nations report in 2013 - agriculture is responsible for about half of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. That would make it the second leading cause of climate change. We need to be thinking about making changes in the way we grow food.

Our program is here to get smart people to think about that problem. We’re looking at 50 to 100-year solutions, specifically thinking about food systems. Not just how food is grown, but how it’s transported, how it’s consumed, who has access and how we dispose of it. We need to think about food as a system, rather than as an object or commodity.

I hope people feel inspired when they come to the farm. I do. I hope people feel changed by this work. I hope people appreciate what’s on their plates more.

It’s rare that you can see a process from start to finish. On a farm you can, and there’s something really gratifying about this. It’s hard work, but it’s beautiful work.

We often frame agriculture as some kind of unrelenting drudgery, but it’s incredibly intellectually challenging on a lot of different levels. I feel like I’m constantly learning. That’s one of the things I value most about this job.”

Saskia Cornes
Duke Campus Farm program manager
2 years at Duke