Sustaianble Food and Farming Student Projects
Experiential learning and hands-on practice is central to our major. We encourage our students to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty! Over the years, SFF students have initiated countless hands-on learning projects that have become central to their learning experience here at UMass. Below are some of the projects and initiatives created and run by students. Most of these have been eligible for academic credit.
1. The UMass Student Farming Enterprise is a full year academic program that offers students an opportunity to gain hands-on year found farming and marketing experience. Now in their 13th growing season, the UMass Student Farm was recently ranked the 5th best college farm in the U.S. Student farmers manage 14 acres of land, have a 125-member CSA share, and sell to four Big Y locations, UMass Dining, and student businesses on campus.. Our farm was ranked 5th best in the nation!
2. The UMass Permaculture Initiative was created by a group of Stockbridge students in 2010 to provide empowering hands-on education and leadership training, community engagement, and fresh, local, organic produce and herbs to the UMass campus. The initiative builds and maintains highly productive and educational, edible gardens on campus designed using permaculture principles. UMass Dining and student businesses have converted underused grass lawns on the campus into edible, low-maintenance, and easily replicable food gardens. To learn more follow "like" this group on Facebook.
3. The UMass Student Food Advocacy group convinced the UMass Amherst Chancellor to make a commitment to purchasing 20% “real food” in all of the UMass Dining Commons by 2020. Students promote education, leadership and activism for a more just and sustainable food system.
4. The School Garden Project - Students work with K-6 teachers to help design, install, and maintain community gardens outside of local elementary schools. These gardens act as living classrooms where youth can get their hands dirty, learn lessons from nature, and apply their knowledge gained in the classroom. UMass students get the opportunity to work with the youth and design and implement curriculum that adhere to the MA learning standards.
5. The UMass Food for All Garden is a student-led project that grows food for and with low-income community members. Food is distributed through Not Bread Alone and the Amherst Survival Center. See our Facebook Page.
6. GardenShare is a student run garden and RSO for students with little or no gardening experience. The one acre garden is within walking distance of campus. This project helps students learn to garden and work together in a collaborative environment.
7. The UMass Bee Keeping Club raises bees at the Agricultural Learning Center.
8. Students also gain experience working with animals in one of the animal management classes and groups at the UMass Hadley Farm, including:
• Belted Galloway Beef Management Group
• Boer Goat Management Group
• Poultry Group
• Dorsett Sheep Group
• Dairy Calf Management Group
9. Finally, students may gain valuable experience by working with farms, non-profit organizations, government agencies and community groups. Most students in the major participate in paid or volunteer internships while earning academic credit toward the major in Sustainable Food and Farming. Some of their experiences are shared on the Student Blogs Page.
If you don't see an activity that interests you in the list above, start your own! Experiential learning is the heart of this major and most students participate in internships or apprenticeships on local farms, non-profit organizations, government agencies, regiional food businesses, or may study abroad. These experiences can count toward the graduation requirements in the major.
Many classes incorpoate practical experience into the syllabus. The Junior Writing class that is required of all majors for example asks students to organize an eduational outreach event for the campus or local community. Here are a few of the projects from Spring 2015.
Senior Capstone Projects
As a senior, you will be invited to participate in an optional capstone experience and join us for the annual Massachusetts Undergraduate Research Confernce. Students investigate a topic of their own interest. The range of topics explored provide an example of the diverse interests of our students.