Sustainable Ag. and Campus Farm and Food Updates

The fledgling Sustainable Agriculture Program is evolving … but we thought our faithful readers deserved a look behind the scenes.  Next week, members of the faculty, staff, and  reps from partner organization and the student body will hold the first meeting of the UC Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SAWG) to flesh out the whens, hows, and wheres of the exciting pieces of the program.  Here’s some of what we’ll be discussing.

Campus Livestock: We are bringing animals back to campus! A farmer will pasture fiber goats here this spring, summer and into fall, with kids due in August. We also received a grant with Waldo County Tech for chickens now happily cheeping in the new animal room in Koons Hall.

Co-curricular Development: This fall we want to launch a number of initiatives designed to increase opportunities for our students outside of the classroom. This includes a facebook page for networking with local farmers, a four-year co-curricular calendar with suggested regional activities for students such as MOFGA workshops or the Winter Film Series, and financial support for students to attend functions.

Intensives, Internships, Apprenticeships: Built on our successful internship program, we would like to develop special opportunities for students in their particular interests in agriculture. For example, for students who wish to gain experience in community food we are working on a Community Food Intensive initiative for this summer. We would also like to further develop our relationship with MOFGA around farm apprenticehips. We envision each summer cohorts of students getting some special training for a day or two on campus, then going out to various sites around the state for summer internships, followed up with group presentations or publications to share their experiences with various aspects of the food and agriculture landscape.

CHEFS: Feeding our Future: Unity College is a founding member of CHEFS, launched this spring, designed to assure long term funding to agriculture projects in our area.

Veggies For All: Through an ongoing partnership with Unity Barn Raisers, students have the opportunity to contribute to this food bank farm project, which is hosted on campus. Students can build their agricultural knowledge through assisting in field work and offering consultations, while gaining an understanding of food security issues at the community scale.  Foundation support for the collaboration between Veggies For All and the College has set wheels in motion to increase and improve our campus agricultural infrastructure.

Maine Food Plan: The College has been invited into the statewide discussion regarding food planning and policy through inclusion in some beginning discussions regarding the Maine Food Plan.  While the application is currently under review by a regional funding team, the College has signified interest, willingness to act, and hope to be included in some form when the role of higher education is addressed with other educational food leaders.  We’re excited to find connections with this plan to our curriculum and our impact on the community food scene.

Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Committee: In addition to the hands-on participation  of SAWG, our College Advancement office is creating an advisory committee for our program consisting of thought leaders in food and agriculture from throughout New England. This committee will meet once per year to hear about our program and to identify for the college trends in food and agriculture that may inform development of our program.

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