Special Projects Report for Greenfield Community College

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SPECIAL PROJECTS REPORT: Plans for Fostering a Fertile Future May 2011

Image by Dan Brown Š 2004

Report Prepared by:

Sandy Thomas, Asst. to the President for Special Projects Abrah Jordan Dresdale, M.A.L.D., GCC Faculty at Feeding Landscapes, 24 Franklin St, Greenfield, MA 01301

contents & GOALS CONTEXT






















“GCC’s primary goal is to understand what’s working well in food and farming education, to not duplicate what exists, to find areas where we can collaborate, and to identify our unique niche.” —Sandy Thomas, GCC Special Projects

GCC’S RESEARCH GOALS • To become informed about how GCC can support workforce and professional development within the local food economy • To inventory existing opportunities in food and farm eduction, determine where there are voids, and identify GCC’s niche role • To seek opportunities for collaboration with other institutions and organizations • To understand what kind of job training is needed in food and farm work • To help determine the level of potential student interest for new offerings in 1) course work, 2) workshops, 3) certificate program, and/or 4) Associate’s Degree with an option in a food-related field at GCC


context THE TOWN OF GREENFIELD, MA & GREENFIELD COMMUNITY COLLEGE: PACESETTERS IN SUSTAINABLE THINKING & PRACTICE Greenfield poised to lay claim to becoming the “Greenest of Fields”

The following sections highlight the multitude of happenings in and around Greenfield, MA. Individuals, organizations, and businesses are converging to make Greenfield one of the most sustainable towns on the map, and in turn, the community spirit is becoming contagious. Greenfield Community College (GCC), a node of resource exchange and education in Greenfield, has been and will continue to be a pacesetter, helping to lead the way through offering affordable access to higher education, skills, and training.

Greening Greenfield Energy Committee (GGEC)

In 2008, Greening Greenfield Energy Committee, a volunteer committee, began. It is comprised of informed and concerned citizens working with residents, businesses, and town government to make Greenfield a more sustainable and vibrant place to live. GGEC’s recent accomplishments: • May 2010, Greenfield was the first community to be named a “Green Community” by the Commonwealth of MA. This involved making a commitment to reduce energy used by municipal buildings, etc. by 20% by 2012. • May 2010, Town of Greenfield hired a Sustainability Coordinator. • May 2010, Greenfield’s efforts toward reducing energy use and moving toward sustainability were recognized by Gov. Patrick’s Leading by Example Award. • Wisdom Way Solar Village is the first-in-the-nation nearzero-net-energy affordable housing project. The homes generate almost as much energy as they use. • Bank Row and other downtown buildings are being renovated so as to increase downtown density—people and stores. Many are energy efficient and/or use efficient heating.


Greenfield Moving Forward on the Local Food Frontier

• GCC is part of PVGrows, and is a member of their Higher Education Working Group. PVGrows is an association of constituents in the Pioneer Valley of Western MA, building a robust regional food system that brings producer and consumer together in a web of close relationships. • Pioneer Valley Institute at GCC frequently includes topics of sustainability and food. • Just Roots: A volunteer resident group who have submitted a proposal for a community farm on Leyden Road. • Hundreds of people have home gardens and compost their waste. Many of them are using innovative techniques such as permaculture and forest gardening. • The Community Development Corporation’s commercial kitchen is available to local food growers to process their food and make value-added products available for commercial sale • Restaurants such as The People’s Pint, Hope & Olive, and Magpie frequently uses local ingredients. • We have two community gardens: Pleasant Street Community Garden and Just Roots’ garden plots. • There are two farmer’s markets and numerous CSAs bringing local fresh produce to our downtown. • We have a food co-op that 1) offers local organic produce and is 2) located downtown with easy access. • Greenfield Schools are becoming involved in the farm to school movement.

Future Plans for Greenfield Include Sustainability at the Core

• The Franklin Regional Transit Authority (FRTA) will build the first-in-the-nation zero-net-energy transit station in 2011. Rail travel to New York and Montreal is planned for 2012. • In 2010, the town put into motion plans for a 2.4MW solar park on our old landfill, cutting electrical costs by $200,000 a year, while also cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 3600 tons. • In January 2011, The Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) engaged residents in developing a Regional Sustainability Plan. • Greenfield is about to embark on a Master Planning process, which will offer everyone in Greenfield an opportunity to share their vision of what would make Greenfield a more sustainable place to live. The Planning Board and staff, and Mayor Martin have all agreed that we need to infuse the plan with the principals of sustainability.


EDUCATIONAL CONTEXT Should sustainability be part of a public education?

The next generation of students graduating from public universities [and colleges] will be faced with an unprecedented challenge to redesign nearly every major natural resource-based system on the planet. These women and men will inherit systems of industrial and technological growth that are simultaneously destroying or depleting much of nature and endangering human and non-human species, while offering the highest standard of living and rate of consumption ever known. These modern systems of industrial and technological development must be re-imagined and re-created in ways that no longer rely on nonrenewable resources, use natural resources at non-sustainable rates, or cause harm to people or the natural world. Education for sustainability should prepare students to address these daunting challenges. While university leaders often talk about education as “an engine of economic growth” and a means of creating jobs, a more complete understanding of how public universities serve the public good would include attention to common human interests such as: affordable, nutritionally adequate food; adequate and affordable clothing and shelter; a healthy, livable environment; a means to provide for one’s livelihood, personal growth and community health; accessible health care; and accessible educational opportunities. Education for sustainability should address these basic human needs.

What are the attributes of an education for sustainability?

A widely accepted conceptual model presents sustainability as a quest toward three interrelated objectives: 1) environmental integrity; 2) economic vitality; and 3) social equity. This model

Environmental Integrity

however sets up three competing objectives in which economic priorities almost always win out over environmental and social objectives. Recently university leaders have begun to talk about “environmental sustainability” (which might be considered progress). But I believe we must learn to view this model in a more holistic way, using systems thinking tools that allow us to integrate all three objectives rather than trading one off against another. The new sustainability science will need to approach problems from a holistic perspective that:

1. transcends spatial scales from economic globalization to local farming practices; 2. accounts for temporal inertia of global affects such as atmospheric ozone depletion and the movement of toxins; 3. deals with the functional complexity of interacting systems and subsystems; and 4. recognizes and honors a wide range of divergent opinion within the scientific community and between science and the larger society.


Education for sustainability will require the integration of thinking and feeling, mind and body, science and spirit, knowledge and values, head and heart. It will mean less time in classrooms and more time learning through experience. It will require pedagogy founded on a model of transformative learning that engages the student’s mind, body and spirit, builds students’ capacity to make meaning of their experiences, and reconstruct their notion of self beyond the individual-self to include the family-self, community-self, and global-self. Awareness of the connection between the individual, the community, and the cosmos are necessary attributes of education to prepare young people as leaders in a sustainable world. --Adapted from John Gerber’s blog (http://world.edu/content/ education-sustainability-philosophy/)

Economic Viability

Social Equity



FINDINGS: AGRICULTURE FOCUS GROUP & SURVEY On March 5, 2011, 38 farmers, food entrepreneurs, and GCC faculty gathered to offer feedback about what appropriate role GCC could play in food and farm education to support their businesses. Additionally, 43 not in attendance responded to an on-line survey. Highlights follow:


A Certificate Program for adults, including specialties in aquaculture, value-added products, and livestock management


Classes studying common themes in food, nutrition, planning of community gardens, sustainable agriculture Courses/workshops to bring awareness of the importance of sustainable agriculture Help the public understand the need for a shift in consciousness Coursework to help envision a food secure future


A Homesteading Gardening Series Courses that teach people how to grow orchards and berries How to build root cellars


A course on land-access options and how to work with land trusts


Food storage/preservation–needed at all levels–neighborhood, community, farms GCC student projects–get students involved in food preservation Classes on food growing and preserving Farmers need more education about value-added products and how to market them

EDUCATION • • • • • • • •

Education at all levels–elementary, high school, GCC, and community-level on food and farming Teaching people about the need for a shift from the current food systems (produce traveling thousands of miles) to regional food systems to help build a sustainable, local economy and mitigate the impacts of peak oil on our food availability People need accurate perceptions of animal farming Role of marketing in shaping perception of food: some images romanticize and also deny reality of food production Where to start public/civic education? At GCC, a 2-year Ag. Degree Program such as Food and Farm Studies, partnering with CISA, NOFA, Greenfield Farmers’ Cooperative, etc. Teacher Education in food and farming; Local Resources: Franklin County Summer Institute; curriculum could be developed, with GCC Ed. Dept., for Continuing Education credit for teachers to integrate into curricula How to get GCC students to farm? Room and board on farm in exchange for farm work? Internships at local farms? A new radio/audio class at GCC–students interview farmers, record oral history, and put projects on the radio

“Farming organizations like NOFA and CISA, the Western Mass Food Processing Center, and other small business development centers sometimes offer brief workshops on some of these topics (e.g. food processing, large-scale composting, grant-writing etc.), but it seems like there might be a need for more serious programs offering in-depth training.”



—Caroline Pam, The Kitchen Garden, Sunderland, MA

Food For Thought... GCC as Franklin County’s Revitalized Grange

Host Food and Farming Conferences

Greenhouse Care, Growing Season Extension, & Edible Plant Propagation

Farm-to-Institution: GCC as a Model School

A Homesteading Series

Precedent: Intervale in VT

(Community Food Enterprise & Farm Incubator)

Train Students in ‘Agripreneurial’ Jobs

Service Learning Projects/Work on Local Farms for Credit



STUDENT FEEDBACK Seven GCC students interested in food and farm-related studies were interviewed. The goal was to gather feedback about what kinds of educational opportunities GCC could offer to support students in their professional development. The following quotes exemplify consistent themes that arose through out the interviews.

LIBERAL ARTS STUDENT “I want to stay local, not travel and spend money, if you [learn skills] with a bunch of people in other classes with you versus meeting random people from all over the country...then you have to move back to your home community and re-introduce [what you’ve learned]. [At GCC] you’re making connections and networking at the same time while you’re getting the education and staying in your community.” “The curriculum definitely needs to be expanded—so we can get the business aspect expanded—classes like permaculture, I learn the doing aspect, but not the marketing aspect—[We need] a legitimate economic way to sustain ourselves; an enterprise.” —Noah Goldman, ‘11

RENEWABLE ENERGY/ENERGY EFFICIENCY STUDENT “Nobody is offering [advanced] permaculture at any of the schools; it’s usually a certificate workshop that’s not accredited by any school. I don’t want to spend $800 and not feel confident I’m going to be able to do anything with it, versus doing a [permaculture] certificate program through an accredited college, I’ll come out and feel confident I can run business on what I learned because I went to GCC.” —Brianyn Macleod, Apollo Contracting

“The Franklin/Hampshire Regional Employment Board received an $800,000 stimulus grant to support the development of job training in the green sector (e.g. weatherization, solar energy, sustainable agriculture, etc.). They must use the entirety of the grant money by the end of 2012.” —Andrew Baker, Project Coordinator, Franklin/ PERMACULTURE DESIGN CERTIFICATE RECIPIENT & GCC STUDENT “I’m using my permaculture design tools that I’ve gathered for evaluating a community garden landscape in Turners Falls that’s going to be implemented this summer, and integrating oyster mushrooms to fix the oil in the soil there. Half and half sheet mulching and plant potting, to show how easy it can be to heal the land...I need more experience to go the next step.” “I’d like more opportunities to be able to learn and be able to apply it. There isn’t much opportunity to expand on what I’ve got. I like that GCC is offering a course [in permaculture] next year; I already took the design course, now I want to learn how to do the other half: implementation. I’ve read Gaia’s Garden, but I’m not sure I know how to implement.” “I would love to be a permacultural professional person. When you take formal training you can get jobs and you can make jobs... you start looking at the land differently. It starts to transform your ability to address and interact with the land. I believe in [permaculture] becoming a really solid profession in this area.” —Ginevra Bucklin-Lane, PSJ/EVS 6


Hampshire Regional Employment Board

POTENTIAL GCC STUDENT “I chose to take the [72-hour] Permaculture Design Certification Course in Northampton this winter. It was totally amazing. It barely opened the doors for me; I feel like I only began learning; the certificate is the beginning of a life long journey...now I can associate the word ‘permaculture’ with anything I’m doing. But, it doesn’t mean you can open up a permaculture design business, there’s not a determined channel about what you can do.” “I think the idea of a 2-year permaculture certificate is so exciting. My entry point was a single permaculture course. That’s what existed. I could get any of a number of books, focused on gardening...so I think that the idea that you can offer a variety of different classes...a two-year arc of learning, in which you’re engaging in a learning process that so many people are otherwise doing alone in this world. All of my teachers have done it alone, like piecemeal..with an arc you can have more support, institutional support...[that] is incredible, really revolutionary. —Hannah Fjeld, B.A.

STUDENT VISIONS FOR A RESILIENT FUTURE AT GCC... • Assisting the local community farmers, gardeners, and urban landscapers as assignments during a certificate/degree program...propelling students into the communities...to be able to easily shift into a job that keeps them in this area and where they gain knowledge, making them much more confident. —It’s important for GCC to get a farm going, that in turn provides for the kitchens of GCC or the community— • Permaculture garden in front of the cafeteria; kick that rolled out grass in front out of there; and make it like the UMASS Franklin Garden installation. —More degree possibilities in permaculture, hands-on, goats and chickens, and gardening— • Introduction to permaculture tools, implementation skills, and introduction to permacultural thought and practice…which polycultures work and how to put them all together...an outdoor learning laboratory to experiment with projects. —Building skills; Natural building techniques— • Farmer’s Market on campus, an open forum like the one in Turners Falls, with food and crafts (organic and handmade). Make guidelines like the Boston Farmer’s Market. Students can sell produce they grow or wares they make. —Compost education, outreach, and collection on campus—



Supporters & Potential Collaborators “I think that a critical next step is to help get all of the food and agriculture business and non-profit leaders together. There is a lot of energy around young and new farmers in your region... I’m happy to come back to help facilitate anything so keep me in the loop.”

—Tom Stearns, Center for an Agricultural Economy, Hardwick, VT

Potential Supporters + Collaborators Supporters & Potential Collaborators Clarke, Tina Coffin, Cris Crosby, Patricia Erwin, Kelly Gerber, John, William Mitchell Hellmund, Paul Korman, Phillip

Business Business

City City

History withwith GCC GCC History


U.S. Transition Town Trainer American Farmland Trust FH Regional Employment Brd Mass. Farm to School UMASS + Stockbridge Conway School Landscape Design CISA-ED


Taught GCC workshop

Summer 2010

Northampton, MA

Speaker for CSLD and GCC series Current discussion on food/farm/ag jobs GCC working with them Good conversations & philosophical support Successful Speaker series partner Successful partner Foodies of Franklin Co Greenfield and GCC connection Supportive thru calendar listings + philosophy Successful collaboration on Ag Focus Group Spoke at CSLD and GCC series

May, 2011

Greenfield Amherst Amherst, MA Conway,MA S. Deerfield, MA

Rawson, Julie

Deputy Sec Ag USDA NOFA-MA

Barre, MA

Soares, Scott

Comm Ag MDAR


Stearns, Tom

Center for Agricultural Economy Community Development Corp

Hardwick, VT

Merrigan, Kathleen

Waite, John

Washington, DC

Greenfield, MA

Food Processing Kitchen

“Our future global security will depend on our food security...I would be happy to be an advisor to Greenfield Community College in the development of new food and farm programs.” 8

—Cris Coffin, New England Director of American Farmland Trust


Spring 2011 Spring 2011 Fall 2010 Spring 2011 Fall, 2010

Reached out M 2011 Fall 2010 March 2011

April 2011 of facilitate grou

potential Advisors Advisors will support the goals and projects of GCC’s activities in topic areas of food, farms, and agriculture. Advisors will include educators, community-based program partners, and representatives from area food and farm connections—all of whom are committed to strengthening GCC’s educational offerings.

options. Meeting two to three times a year, the Advisors will be engaged in suggesting fields of study, programs, potential instructors, and opportunities for collaboration. Advisors will generate ideas for developing potential certificate and Associates Degree programs with the goal of enriching the curriculum and promoting hands-on learning experiences for students.

GCC aims to create a more food-secure future as well as identifying related workforce training

John Gerber, UMASS Sustainable Food and Farming Program, Director

John Gerber, Ph.D., has been Executive Director of the Consortium for Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, a national consortium of universities and research institutes. John was Director of the University of Massachusetts Extension System from 1992 to 2000. He has also served as Associate Dean in the College of Food and Natural Resources at the University of Massachusetts. John currently teaches courses relating to sustainability at the University of Massachusetts where he provides leadership for the undergraduate program in Sustainable Food and Farming.

Cris Coffin, New England Director of American Farmland Trust

Chris Coffin, J.D., sits on the board of the Franklin Land Trust and the New England Farmers Union. As New England Director of American Farmland Trust, she promotes farmland protection, farm viability, and conservation practices in New England through research, outreach, advocacy and policy development at the local, state, and national level.

Paul Hellmund, Conway School of Landscape Design, Executive Director

Landscape architect Paul Cawood Hellmund, M.L.A., is director of the Conway School of Landscape Design in Conway, Massachusetts. The focus of Paul’s design research, practice, and teaching is improving the relationship between people and nature, especially in urban, suburban, and degraded landscapes. As director of the Conway School, Paul has increasingly sought projects for students that focus on food security, food justice, and the planning of regional food systems.

Deb Habib, Seeds of Solidarity, Co-founder

Deb Habib, Ed.D., together with her husband Ricky Baruc, is co-founder of the nonprofit organization Seeds of Solidarity, a visionary solar-powered farm and education center based in Orange, Massachusetts. Seeds of Solidarity includes a vibrant family farm, where marginal land has been transformed into fertile fields that produce crops much in demand by restaurants and food co-ops. The entire farm and homestead models energy efficiency and is fully powered by solar electricity. Seeds of Solidarity also implements gardens and greenhouses with schools and runs SOL Garden, a program that teaches underemployed and low-income teenagers sustainable agriculture and how to cook with local foods.

Other Candidates for Advisors

• Nathan LeEtoile, MDAR Assistant Commissioner • Cliff Hatch, farmer, Upinngil Farm • Phil Korman, Exec. Dir. of CISA • Tom and Ben Clark, Clarkdale Fruit Farms • Abrah Dresdale, Feeding Landscapes, GCC • Dan Conlon, Pres. Mass. Beekeeper Assoc.

• Ryan or Sarah Voiland, Red Fire Farm • Jen Smith, farmer, Northampton Community Farm • Jay Lord, Director of Just Roots, farmer, educator • Dave Jacke, permaculture teacher and author • Ralph Kunkle, Greenfield Conservation Agent, former • Suzette Snow-Cobb, Manager Franklin Comm. Co-op SPECIAL PROJECTS REPORT POTENTIAL ADVISORS


inventory: existing educational programs A) BRISTOL COMMUNITY COLLEGE Overview

Bristol Community College in Attleboro, MA, offers a

29-Credit Technician Certificate in Organic Agriculture

Sample Coursework

OFP 14 Organic Farming Practices I OFP 15 Organic Farming Practices II OFP 16 Water Acquisition and Conservation OFP 17 Organic Farming and Practices Practicum I OFP 18 Organic Farming and Practices Practicum II OFP 19 Organic Farming and Practices Practicum III OFP 20 Solar Greenhouse Production OFP 22 Beekeeping OFP 23 Pest and Disease Control. SOC 16 Food, Famine, and Farming in the Global Village SCI 15 Science and Care of Plants



Minnesota State and Technical Community College offers a

30-Credit Diploma in Sustainable Food Production • Minnesota State’s hands-on Sustainable Food Production diploma program gives students the knowledge and skills necessary to meet the many agricultural and environmental challenges facing food production in the 21st century. • Students will emerge at the forefront of this critical subject and will be prepared to grow food themselves, or contribute to the country and the world as innovative problem solvers and catalysts for positive change in this new paradigm of food production. In addition to practical agricultural curriculum, the program includes courses in sociology to assist students in understanding the cultural and community aspects of sustainable food production.

Sample Coursework

SFP1100 Principles of Sustainability SFP1200 Farm Ecology SFP1301 Artisan Food and Value - Added Agriculture SFP1302 Forage and Crop System SFP1303 Grass-based Livestock Systems SFP1304 Practical Farm Skills SFP1400 Farm Marketing and Management SFP1500 Internship SOC2222 Sociology of Agriculture

Program outcomes

1. Apply basic natural science and social science knowledge 2. Demonstrate knowledge of sustainability principles 3. Expose students to diversity of production methods 4. Demonstrate knowledge of business management & marketing 5. Possess the skills to perform sustainable food production


Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, MA, offers an Associate’s Degree in Sustainability Studies, with a focused concentration in one of the following: • • • • •


Natural Science Social Equity Communication Sustainable Agriculture (coming soon) Clean Energy (coming soon)


Program Description

The Sustainability Studies degree option prepares students to pursue careers in sustainable living, in fields such as health and safety, energy and climate change, environmental research and engineering, public policy and law, resource conservation, corporate social responsibility, urban planning, advocacy, and political science (and soon, sustainable agriculture). Transfer opportunities exist with integrated programs at numerous colleges and universities, including Amherst College, UMASS-Amherst, MCLA, UVM, and Westfield State College.


The University of Massachusetts provides students with different learning goals with several options in the field of agriculture at the college-level:

1) 4-year degree: Plant, Soil, & Insect Sciences, concentration in Sustainable Food & Farming

2) 15-credit certificate: Sustainable Food & Farming 3) 3-credit independent study with the Summer 2011 Permaculture Committee & a 3-credit Permaculture course 4) 2-year degree at UMASS-Stockbridge in Fruit & Vegetable Crops

Sample Coursework

PLSOILIN 115 – Plants, Soils and the Environment PLSOILIN 390E - Praxis in Sustainable Food and Farming PLSOILIN 397C – Community Food Systems PLSOILIN 100 – Botany for Gardeners PLSOILIN 120 – Organic Gardening and Farming PLSOILIN 185 – Sustainable Living PLSOILIN 290C - Land Use Policies and U.S. Agriculture PLSOILIN 397M - Applied Marketing for the Green Industry • Dr. John Gerber has been instrumental in overseeing the development of these offerings, and strongly supports GCC creating a similar program for community college students



Green Mountain College in Poultney, VT is offering a new

Masters Degree in Sustainable Food Systems

• “Our Masters in Sustainable Food Systems program prepares future leaders in the burgeoning food movement with a graduate level interdisciplinary understanding of sustainable agricultural production, and a deep knowledge of the economic, ecological, and social forces driving food systems.” -Green Mountain College’s web site

Sample Coursework

SFS 5010: Contemporary Food Systems SFS 5020: Bioregional Theory and the Foodshed SFS 5030: History of American Agriculture SFS 5040: Theory and Practice of Sustainable Agriculture SFS 5050: Vegetables and Fruits: Farm to Plate Sustainability SFS 5060: Livestock: Farm to Plate Sustainability SFS 6010: Contemporary Food and Agriculture Movements: Regional, National, and International SFS 6020: Food Law and Policy SFS 6030: Agriculture and Energy SFS 6040: Sustainable Marketing SFS 6050: Sustainable Organization Management SFS 6060: Turning Traditions into Markets SFS 6065: Agricultural Biodiversity in the Marketplace


Merritt College in Oakland, CA is one of the very first community colleges in the nation to offer a

Two-year Certificate Program in Permaculture Design

Campus Features

* Fruit Orchard * Mushroom Cultivation Area * Terraced garden beds * 5000 sq. ft. of Greenhouses

* Restored Oak Woodlands * Outdoor Kitchen Area * Herb Gardens * Salvia Collection

Sample Coursework

LH 1 Introduction to Landscape Horticulture LH 028 Permaculture Design A and B 3 units each LH 18 Landscape Design A and/or B LH-036 Natural Building LH-045 Mushroom Cultivation LH-046 Cycles of Land Use LH-047 From Dams to Greywater LH-054 Integrated Pest Management LH-056A/C Regenerative Design LH220 Edible Landscaping



Synthesis of data IMPLICATIONS OF DATA GATHERED Based on feedback gathered through the Agricultural Focus Group held, an on-line survey, conversations with food and farm professionals, and interviews with GCC students, there is a clear need for GCC to step forward in support of workforce and professional development for our local food economy. In the past, GCC has responded to the needs of the community and the larger global question of sustainability in offering its highly distinguished Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency program. Now, at a time when we are facing rising fuel and food prices, a stagnant economy, and the uncertain effects of climate change on our food availability, GCC is well-positioned to respond to these challenges by offering students, community members, farmers, and food entrepreneurs training to increase our collective resiliency. Lester Brown of the Worldwatch Institute sums it up in a sobering way with, “Food is the new oil.”



The recent development of courses, certificates, and degree programs in sustainable farming and food systems at institutions of higher education throughout the Northeast and elsewhere indicates that food and farm-related studies is an expanding and professionally viable field. Young students are enrolling in these programs fast, and life-long learners are yearning to increase their self-sufficiency skills and provide more food for their families and communities.


GCC’s primary goal is, “To understand what’s working well, to not duplicate what exists, to find areas where we can collaborate, and to identify our unique niche,” according to Sandy Thomas, GCC Special Projects. The following list summarizes existing food-related educational offerings in higher education:

Current Offerings in the Northeast:

• Courses in Permaculture • Certificates in Organic Agriculture and in Sustainable Food & Farming • 2-year degrees in Sustainability Studies and in Fruit & Vegetable Crops • 4-year degree in Plant, Soil, & Insect Science with a concentration in Sustainable Food & Farming • Masters Degree in Sustainable Food Systems After speaking with students and faculty involved with these programs, the general consensus is that these offerings are well-enrolled and popular among all ages. Critiques have been there are not enough hands-on learning opportunities. And save a few west coast institutions like Merritt College, nowhere in the country can students study permaculture professionally—a discipline that aims to create stable, productive food systems that provide for human needs, while harmoniously integrating the land with its inhabitants. Permaculture principles can be applied to any environment, at any scale from dense urban settlements to individual homes, from farms to entire regions.

How can GCC offer a dynamic educational experience that responds to the needs of a diverse student body and a changing economy? What technical skills can a 2-year degree provide? What about students who want to go on to pursue a 4-year degree? How can community education students benefit?

What sources of funding could support the development of new offerings in the field of sustainable food production, landscape regeneration, social responsibility, and food systems planning?

recommendations: New OFFERINGS At GCC After gathering data from the community, assessing existing programs, and identifying educational voids in food and farming studies, GCC’s niche could evolve over time. Option A is the first recommendation. With successful enrollment, Option B would follow. And finally, if interest and funding permit, GCC could be one of the first colleges in the nation to offer Option C. Each recommendation addresses diverse needs. A) Local Food Production & Preservation Certificate (12-15 credits) This certificate consists of short hands-on courses that could address the following needs in the region: FARM JOBS • Training for new farmers • Increased knowledge for farm laborers EMPLOYMENT IN SPECIALTY FOODS • Education for new value-added foods businesses • Skills for employees in food processing jobs RESIDENTS INTERESTED IN SELF-SUFFICIENCY • Homesteaders • Hobby Farmers & Backyard Gardeners • Transition Town Members

B) Permaculture Studies Certificate (24-29 credits)

This certificate blends resiliency theory and hands-on skills for students who want to think critically about issues of food security, develop innovative techniques for food cultivation, and learn skills to design integrated farm systems. Students who complete this certificate would be more competitive and better prepared for the following: JOBS IN EDUCATION • Urban gardening coordinators • Farm to School staff for such organizations as Green Mountain Farm-to-School Network, VT • Environmental educators LAND STEWARDSHIP POSITIONS • Land trust employees • Americorps and AgriCorps staff • Non-profit employees at places such as Institute for Environmental Awareness in Petersham, MA, or VT Sustainability Jobs Fund, etc. LIFE SKILLS ACQUISITION • Students would learn skills to help increase their community’s resiliency in the face of climate change, peak oil, and economic instability

C) A 2-year liberal arts degree with an option in Permaculture Studies (60-credits)

This theoretical and applied liberal arts degree emphasizes whole systems thinking, working with communities through service-learning projects, and fosters professional development in broad-scale applications of permaculture such as food security studies and land-use planning. The following are opportunities for students with this degree: NEW JOB CREATION • Work for new organizations such as APPLE Corp (Association for Planting of edible Public Landscapes for Everyone), Montpelier, VT; GrowFood Northampton and Northampton’s Community Farm; Transition Towns needing food security assessments • Prepares students for internships as planning agencies such as Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Land Trusts, and Franklin County Regional Council of Governments FOUR-YEAR DEGREE PROGRAMS • Preparing community college students to transfer to 4-year programs in Sustainable Agriculture, etc. SPECIAL PROJECTS REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS


certificate: local food production & preservation New 1-2 credit courses proposed for Option A:

~Certificate in Local Food Production & Preservation~ A. Goats Are Not Small Cows: Learn how to care for goats in New England. What breeds are good for our climate, how to milk a goat, and more... (Possible instructor: Carolyn Hillman, Hillman Farm, Colrain)

B. ABC’s of Beekeeping: How to start your own hive.

(Possible instructor: Dan Conlon, Warm Colors Apiary, Deerfield)

C. Maple Sugaring is So New England: Learn how to tap trees, boil down sap, and enjoy this delicious local treat.

(Possible instructor: Carolyn Wheeler, Mass Maple Producers Assoc., Shelburne)

D. Value-Added Products: How to get more bang for your agricultural buck...Make milk into yogurt or cheese, excess tomatoes into sauce or salsa, and ferment your veggies. (Possible instructors: CDC Commercial Kitchen Staff and food processors)

E. Get the Dirt: Intro to soils: Learn about best management practices such as

re-mineralization for healthy, productive crops. Understand how soil texture, structure, biology, and nutrient-density and availability affect plant growth. (Possible instructor Dan Kittrege, Real Food Campaign, Northampton)

F. Access to Land, Capital and Equipment for Small Start-up Farms: hear from seasoned farmers and various land trusts about buying options, land-use decisions, and financial management. (Possible instructor: Rich Hubbard, Franklin Land Trust, Shelburne Falls)

G. Seed Saving, A Key to Your Future Food Source: How do you save them, dry them, store them? How long do they last? Which are open-pollinated? (Possible instructor: Dan Botkin, Laughing Dog Farm, Gill)

H. Mushroom Cultivation: Learn how to inoculate oak logs with shiitake mushrooms, forage for chicken-of-the-woods, and more... (Possible instructor: Paul Lagreze, New England Wild Edibles, Colrain)

I. Aquaculture Systems: How to combine aquatic plants, farm-friendly fish, and beneficial microbes to produce clean water and edible goods for market. (Possible instructors: Jonathan Daen, Australis Aquaculture)



Certificate and/or Degree: Permaculture Studies Existing courses proposed for Option B The follow courses are already offered at GCC and combined with the new courses offered in Option A, could constitute a Certificate in Permaculture Studies.

EVS 101: Issues in Sustainability (3 cr) EVS 118: Introduction to Food Systems (3 cr) BIO 103: Ecology (4 cr) BIO 120: Environmental Studies (4 cr) SCI 125: Sustainable Landscape Design (3 cr) EVS 152: Sustainable Agriculture: Organic Gardening SCI 120: Sustainable Energy: Theory and Practice (4 cr) SCI 128 Solar Thermal Systems (3 cr) SCI ?: Permaculture Design (4 cr) SCI 227: Sustainable Design & Green Building Practices (3cr) REW 427: Building with Earth, Straw, Wood, and Stone (3 cr)

Clarifying Questions 1) Can students achieve one of the certificates as well as their associate’s degree in two years? 2) Are certificate programs housed within academic departments? 3) If so, which department can house these certificates?

New courses proposed for Option C

Building on Option B (Certificate in Permaculture Studies), Option C (a 2-year liberal arts degree with an option in Permaculture Studies) would only require a few new classes be added to the curriculum in order to create a well-rounded and robust program. Looking at Merritt College’s 2-year permaculture program as a precedent, the following are recommended as potential courses that GCC could develop to establish a 2-year degree. • • • • • • • •

Advanced Permaculture Studio 1 & 2 GIS for Permaculture Broad Scale Analysis Edible Landscaping & Installation Regenerative Water Use Greenhouse Propagation Urban Homesteading Holistic Livestock Management Green Entrepreneurship

Clarifying Questions 1) Which department could house a Liberal Arts Degree with an option in Permaculture Studies? 2) Alternately, could the courses be cross-listed and shared between departments, with different areas of concentration? 3) Or would it be its own department?

NOTE: The Academic Advising Center could work closely with faculty liaisons in each of the sustainability-related departments (Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency, Peace, Justice, & Environmental Studies, Environmental Science, and Permaculture Studies) to help students determine which degree option is best suited for their learning goals.

“We need to be producing whole systems thinkers at a time when our current systems are archaic, are breaking down; We need a fleet of trained professionals who know how to think critically and use their creative genius to make new, resilient systems that honor both people and the planet.”

—Abrah Dresdale, Principal of Feeding Landscapes, GCC



mining LOCAL KNOWLEDGE GCC would be one of the first colleges in the nation to offer training in local food and permaculture studies Greenfield and Franklin County are increasingly becoming a Northeast hub of permaculture—a rapidly growing field that unites regenerative practices with a common set of principles and ethics. Greenfield-based Dave Jacke authored Edible Forest Gardens with Eric Toensmeier, which is considered by many to be the “Bible” in the field of permaculture. Some leading educators in the Pioneer Valley specializing in ecological planning and design include: Jono Neiger, Sebastian Gutwein, Keith Zaltzberg and Thomas Benjamin, who together form Regenerative Design Group, based in Greenfield, MA Dave Jacke, principal of Dynamics Ecological Design, Greenfield, MA Lisa Depiano, permaculture teacher at Yestermorrow Design Build School; co-founder of Montview Farm, Northampton, MA

Charlie Laurel, faculty at GCC and permaculture teacher in Brattleboro, VT

Abrah Dresdale, principal of Feeding Landscapes, Greenfield, MA; permaculture teacher in Northampton and Brattleboro; instructor for GCC’s new food and farm courses The Pioneer Valley is rich with farmland and people who have dedicated their careers to educating students about the importance of resilient ways of working with each other and the land. The following list includes some of these teachers who have expressed interest in involvement with GCC. Dan Botkin, teacher and owner of Laughing Dog Farm in Gill, MA; knowledgeable and passionate about hands-on permaculture applications

Tina Clarke, national trainer for Transition Towns, Montague, MA

Deb Habib, of Seeds of Solidarity, Orange, MA; educator and works with communities on strategies for regenerative farming Kristin Whittle, owner of Little Brook Farm, Sunderland, MA; manager of livestock barn at UMASS for 13 years Amy Vickers, of Vickers and Association, Amherst, MA; author of Water Use and Conservation handbook Kyle Bostrom, of Bostrom Farm, Greenfield, MA; farm manager of the UMASS Crop and Research and Education Center




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