Sustainable Agriculture Project
SAP Documentary Transcript
Some students were like, “Hey, we want to have an organic farm on campus.” They learned about food, I’m sure they watched Food, Inc., saw all the horrors about food—it was really small plots and from there it just started to grow and more and more students started to come and volunteer—they were more interested.
Last year we put up the first Hoophouse, this year we put up the second Hoophouse and I think that the goal is to keep expanding it every year, little by little.
There’s something here that I think students connect with in really tangible sort of ways. That’s not to say that they don’t connect with all sorts of other things. It’s not to say it’s isolated in that sense. But we put up a Hoophouse and all of the sudden there was excitement. “Oh my word there’s this Hoophouse, there’s this structure, they’re growing year-round.” Well things changed, but not that much changed before we put up the Hoophouse and after, and yet everything has changed because the perception of this is now one that, “Oh, this is successful—this is a successful endeavor.”
It’s such a wholesome thing to do to be out here. You’re working with your hands; you’re interacting with people socially. Building a greenhouse? That’s not easy.
This started as a community garden a few years ago and now it’s just exploded.
We sold some food at the farmers’ market, some students did some research projects, we had some classes out here, then all the sudden it was like, “Oh, this is legitimate, this is important, this is valuable.” While this is about food, farming, and agro-ecology and addressing the injustices in the agro food system, it’s also about transforming how we see ourselves and see culture.
This is a place where a bunch of people can come and just congregate and have that sense of community. And it’s great that we’re working for a common goal and the common goal being, you know, developing sustainable lifestyles.
Students today are really concerned with questions of ecological wellbeing, with the challenge of developing sustainable communities, with the opportunity and challenge that we face of transforming the balance of relationships that exist in many of our communities. Students want to find practical ways of improving quality of life in their own places and the work of the SAP really makes a significant contribution to that.
What matters is what types of students we are producing, and for me this wont be a success when it’s, you know, a farm that’s running really well. I think it will be a success when it provides a context for students to have that transformational education. I’m less interested in what we actually do here, and more interested in the outcomes for students, because ultimately I do care about education—that’s the most important part of it.
It offers us an important opportunity, which is to take seriously the challenge of integrating new insights from the fields of environmental studies and sustainability studies into the practice of this institution. So it broadens the opportunities that are available for students to think about how they want to make change in their own professional and personal lives and it gives them a new chance to explore what kind of contributions they themselves might make to their own communities.
If people come together in that community setting, and they’re working towards that common goal, then it’s more joyful to be together and I think that that’s one of the most exciting things about this place—so many people are coming together.
I think it’s a good place to learn—to get some hands on learning especially.
When you learn by doing, by actually interacting, it allows you to draw the connections between the real world and the content that’s being covered.
It’s more practical and I’m able to interact and kind of get a physical understanding of what is going on.
When you’re in the classroom you’re just so confined and when you’re out here it’s really free and open.
Its another thing to have the opportunity then to take that classroom knowledge and put it into practice and start to see the connections—to see that, in the world, what we think of as separate disciplines are not in fact separate—that they’re all dimensions of the same set of problems, and they’re all dimensions of the same set of solutions. The real power of the SAP is that it allows students the opportunity to explore those possibilities.
Page last modified January 16, 2013