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the farm as college campus

Posted: May 3 2011

Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming offers popular summer course for college students

Ithaca, NY – In cooperation with the Environmental Studies Program at Tompkins Cortland Community College, Groundswell will again offer the eight-week Summer Practicum in Sustainable Farming and Local Food Systems from June 1st to July 25th, 2011. The Summer Practicum is designed for students from any discipline as well as non-students who are interested in learning more about sustainable agriculture, local food systems and food justice issues. The class will meet for three full days each week to explore these issues through readings, discussion, lectures, field trips, labs, and immersion in the actual work of operating a successful and sustainable small farm.
“What’s unique about the Summer Practicum is its integration of rigorous academic study with lots of hands-on work experience on a real farm,” says Joanna Green, Director of the Groundswell Center and lead instructor for the 6-credit class. “Our campus has no walls, and our instructors are actual farmers, activists, and food system innovators who are transforming the regional food landscape. Our students find it extremely inspiring - even transformative.”
Students in the Summer Practicum spend Mondays working and learning at West Haven Farm at EcoVillage, where Farm Manager Todd McLane provides instruction in a variety of sustainable farming practices, from crop cultivation to pest and weed control, to harvest, post-harvest handling and record-keeping. On Wednesdays, students interact with a stellar line-up of guest speakers from Cornell, Ithaca College, TC3, and the local community. They also prepare and enjoy a regionally sourced menu during their weekly “Local Lunch Lab.”
Every Friday, students hit the road and visit more local farms, food businesses, and community organizations for a close-up look at Ithaca's vibrant local food system. Each student also spends a Saturday helping Todd with set-up, sales, and clean-up at the Ithaca Farmers Market. For their final project, students will organize and lead an educational tour of West Haven Farm for community members.
“What’s exciting for me as an educator is the incredible passion and fire that these students have for making a difference in the world,” says Todd McLane. “They’re the ones who’ll be creating the food systems of the future; what we’re doing is giving them some of the tools they need to succeed.”
This year the class has attracted students from as far away as North Carolina and New Mexico. “The class is nearly full, but we have a few more openings for interested students,” says Rachel Firak, Groundswell’s Program Assistant. “We keep the class size small so that every student has a chance to work closely with our farmer-instructors.”
Tuition for New York State residents enrolling through TC3 is $834 plus a $250 lab fee; tuition for out-of-state applicants is $1,728 plus lab fee. Minority and limited-resource students are especially encouraged to apply.
Applications for the Summer Practicum are now online. For more information and to apply, visit www.groundswellcenter.org.
The Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming is an initiative of the EcoVillage Center for Sustainability Education/Center for Transformative Action. Support for Groundswell comes from individuals and businesses who believe in the importance of strong local food systems, and from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute for Food and Agriculture-USDA, Grant #2010-49400-21799. For more information, visit www.groundswellcenter.org.

ithaca, new york