Sustainable Agriculture Project
Head, Hands, and Heart
Head, Hands, and Heart 2.4.2011
Seed catalogs, field layout, and Farm Club are the topics of conversation around here lately. As I have had the fortunate luxury to spend much of the winter planning for 2011, I am constantly discovering the complexity of work and effort that goes into sustainable agriculture. Not only the complexity in planning, but also in physical labor, augmented by an emotional and psychological commitment to the cause of sustainability.
A recent paper published in the International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education argues that transformative sustainability learning (TSL) requires not just hearing, seeing, or experiencing environmental and social devastation to understand sustainability, but rather that true change comes from engaging head, hands, and heart. The combination of study, practical skill sharing and development, and “translation of passion and values into behavior” is the unique recipe for truly engaging an understanding of sustainability. As proponents of experiential and interdisciplinary work, this should become our mantra. Working with our heads, hands, and hearts is not only how we can work toward social and environmental change, but how internal transformation can occur as well. It is how engage the challenges of the 21st century instead of feeling inspired but helpless, or able but apathetic, we marry those faculties that make us human and begin to simultaneously address issues of childhood obesity, environmental devastation, food deserts, and loss of traditional knowledge, among many others.
The Sustainable Agriculture Project at GVSU is one step toward that mantra. By empowering students, faculty, and staff to learn not only about the problems of traditional food systems, but also how we can literally and metaphorically grow change, we are one step closer to transformation. This is another invitation to join our cause and our hope for 2012.
Changing with the seasons
We are wrapping things up from the 2011 growing season and in reflection – a lot has happened in the past six months. Over 100 students, community members, and GV faculty and staff have been involved in the garden. We are in a flurry of activity planning for the 2012 season, and yet I am excited as I think of some of the extra sleep and reading I hope to enjoy during this winter. One of my favorite things about agriculture is that it is cyclical. From the first thaw of spring to the harsh winter blizzards, we can expect every year that there will be a time to work, and a time to rest. A time to plant, and a time to harvest. As I reflect on why we need this farm – why it is absolutely fundamental to our educational experience, I remember that we are trying to mend that chasm between the industrialized world and the natural world. We are, in a way, trying to heal a lot of chasms – that between agriculture and food advocates, and between ecologists and agronomists. We are trying to better understand the cycle of the earth from which all of life springs forth. So I hope that for you this winter is a time of rest and hibernation, and that next year you will roll up your shirt sleeves and get a little dirty.
Page last modified February 10, 2012