Daily News

GCC Receives Grant to Support Sustainable-agriculture Education

GREENFIELD — Thanks to almost $50,000 of funding from a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, Greenfield Community College will develop new courses and professional-development workshops in sustainable agriculture.

The ENGAGE (Educational Networks for Growing an Agricultural Economy) project will help area high-school and GCC students develop sustainable agriculture and leadership skills and pursue further education and employment in agriculture. The grant also provides free professional-development workshops for high-school teachers so they can bring enhanced sustainable-agriculture skills and curriculum components to their classrooms. For the project, GCC is partnering with six area high schools: Smith Vocational School, Franklin County Technical School, Turners Falls High School, Mohawk Trail Regional High School, Greenfield High School, and Four Rivers Charter School.

Kyle Bostrom, owner of Bostrom Farm in Greenfield, will teach the new, three-credit “Introduction to Sustainable Farming Skills” course in the summer of 2015 to high-school students and those enrolled in GCC’s Farm and Food Systems (FFS) program. Also next summer, Deb Habib, executive director of the Seeds of Solidarity Education Center in Orange, will develop and deliver a 15-hour professional-development points (PDPs) workshop on sustainable food production for high-school teachers. The workshop will be held at GCC’s campus, utilizing the permaculture garden, organic vegetable garden, and near-zero-net-energy greenhouse.

In the summer of 2016, the “Intro to Sustainable Farming Skills” course will be offered again, and a course on sustainable farming leadership will be offered to FFS students who have completed the skills course. The introductory-skills course will be free for targeted students.

Along with providing development and delivery of the two new courses and the workshop, the grant supports GCC’s internship coordinator, Christine Copeland; funds a part-time Farm and Food Systems program assistant position; provides stipends for teachers who take the professional-development workshop; and supports curriculum development and delivery and internships.

“GCC is aware of the growing concern about the decline in the number of the next generation of farmers,” said GCC President Bob Pura. “We are also committed to ongoing collaborations with our public high-school neighbors. This grant will help build a stronger educational pathway for young people in our community who would seriously consider farming as a way of life while increasing the collaborations with those public schools. The more collaboration GCC has with the public schools in our community, the stronger the probability of success for all of our students.”

For information about the new courses and professional-development workshop, contact Abrah Dresdale at (413) 775-1107 or [email protected].

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