Food and Farming Systems

High Tunnel

The High Tunnel is a 3,000 square foot student-built greenhouse that does not use fossil fuels for heating, cooling or ventilation. It runs entirely off of passive solar energy and the ambient heat of the earth. The greenhouse is able to yield produce all year and extends the growing season for warm-season crops by up to 3 1/2 months.

Picture of the High Tunnel

Grow Biointensive

The Grow Biointensive is an organic method of sustainable food system production. It is low-tech and utilizes close-looped fertility and open-pollinated seeds. Open-pollinated seeds allow the seeds to self-propagate, eliminating the need to purchase new seeds every year, which creates locally adapted cultivars and farm and community seed /food sovereignty. This method of food production focuses on diet. It is designed to meet the needs of people, meaning that it determines the necessary amount of calories, vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are part of a healthy diet. Therefore, it helps people know which crops to produce and how many crops to plant. Closed-looped fertility, by design, produces sufficient carbon and nitrogen in the right combination to provide compost to reapply to the garden and support future diet and compost crops. It does all this while using 1/10 the area of a standard US diet. This method is particularly useful in developing countries and urban areas where food and resources are often scarce. For more information on this technique, please visit

Picture of the biointensive agriculture research and demonstration area


All campus yard waste, grass clippings, leaves and fallen branches are collected by the Elon University maintenance staff and brought to Loy Farm where they are composted and reused for projects on the farm or on campus.

Picture of the Loy Farms compost area.


The bees are used for student teaching and faculty and student research. The long-term goal is to integrate the bees into the farming system to increase yield as well as continue research on colony collapse that is dramatically influencing the declining bee population.

Wildlife Ecology

Wildlife ecology is studied on the farm through small mammal research.


The Heirloom Apple Orchard at Loy Farm is a new addition that is dedicated to perpetuating the deep heritage of apple growing in NC. Of the many hundreds of heirloom apple varieties that once grew in North Carolina, students have chosen a handful of unique types of apple trees especially suited for the local soil and climate. The trees were also selected for varying seasonal production so that apples can be harvested from late June to November.

The orchard was inaugurated in May 2014 and blessed by Lee Calhoun, the “godfather of southern heirloom apples” whose book and wisdom guided the students. His colleague, David Vernon, provided the tree stock and gave the students valuable insights into their project also was present for the blessing.