Julia Borland (second from left) received a $10,000 award for work in sustainable farming.

Northwestern University’s Julia Borland, a third-year student studying social policy and economics, received a $10,000 award from Projects for Peace to help incorporate environmental and food justice issues into a sustainable farming program.

As part of her practicum, Ms. Borland co-founded the Zumwalt Acres Sustainable Farm Apprenticeship Program, which invites 10 college-aged students to live and work on a farm in Sheldon, Ill. The apprentices learn how to write grants, establish organic garden beds, conduct research on sustainable soil management and renewable energy and more.

Ms. Borland’s vision includes adding educational resources and opportunities that address political, social, and cultural issues in farming. She’ll use the Projects for Peace award to help apprentices attend workshops such as Uprooting Racism in the Food System, by Soul Fire Farm, a leader in environmental justice in US agriculture. Several nonfiction books, including Robin Wall Kimmerer’s “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants,” and Leah Penniman’s “Farming While Black,” will “be essential for informing group discussions on combatting discrimination and oppression in agriculture,” she said.

In February, Zumwalt Acres was awarded $7,000 through a North Central region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant. They also won the Delta Institute’s ninth Annual Boost Social Entrepreneurship Impact Pitch Contest, a platform for early-stage entrepreneurs with innovative products and services designed to promote sustainable change in the Midwest.

Ms. Borland, who graduated from Evanston Township High school in 2018, credited the flexibility and support of the School of Education and Social Policy’s senior academic adviser, Nathan Frideres, who helped make the unusual practicum site during the COVID-19 a reality.

“The material from school translates well to the work,” she said. “But being on the farm feels so real, like we’re really making an impact.”

Julie Deardorff

Julie Deardorff is an Evanston resident, the mom of two teenagers, and award-winning journalist and columnist who covered everything from sports and politics to education and health during a 23-year career...