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Strategic Plan for Sustainable Agriculture Project

Context For Planning

The GVSU Sustainable Agriculture Project is a collaboration between students, faculty, and staff to experience sustainable agriculture on the Allendale Campus. The project began with a group of students in 2008 and has expanded over the years to include a variety of different initiatives. The Sustainable Agriculture Project has a diverse Advisory Board with representatives from different academic disciplines, facilities services, and the Office of Sustainability Practices. The resulting 2016-2021 Sustainable Agriculture Project Strategic Plan is designed to support the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies' vision of being a regional and national model for creative inquiry, integrative programming, inclusive practices, and student empowerment.

Mission

The GVSU Sustainable Agriculture Project was started by a group of Grand Valley students in 2008, and is a project of the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies. The farm site is on Luce Street on the Allendale campus. The purposes of the project include: 1. Seeding sustainable food practices We foster sustainable farming practices to promote ecological and food literacy. The farm strives to implement intensive agricultural practices that are ecologically durable, socially responsible, and economically viable. We promote social and food justice, while exploring various means of sustainable food production. 2. Cultivating leadership and learning We value student leadership with the continued mentoring and support of faculty and the farm manager. We foster student leadership through the Farm Club, volunteerism, internships, and student-led research. The farm is a student-led space. We value sustainable food system education that is rigorous and experiential. The project provides support to courses across the university. We encourage research projects that are student-initiated and/or interdisciplinary. We wish to foster collaboration and experimentation within all teaching and learning in the project. 3. Nurturing place We value land and its ecological integrity. Place-based learning is at the heart of our work. The project sites provide places where the practical, political, ecological, and symbolic challenges of such work can be negotiated and explored. 4. Growing community The project is rooted in community. We seek to grow relationships by providing a space for dialogue across disciplinary boundaries, the negotiation of interdisciplinary practices, and the contestation of ideas. The project is run as a collaborative effort among students, faculty, administrators, the Office of Sustainability Practices and Facilities Services & Planning.

Vision

The Sustainable Agriculture Project will be an academically-focused, student-led, faculty-mentored space where students are encouraged and motivated to apply the principles learned through their liberal education in a living environment that serves as a microcosm for society.

Value Statement

We value: 

Sustainable farming practices to promote ecological and food literacy. 
Student leadership with continued mentoring. 
Sustainable food system education that is rigorous and experiential. 
Land, ecological integrity, and community.

Strategic Priorities, outcomes, and key objectives

Strategic Priority Area 1: Actively engage learners at all levels.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 1.A.1

The SAP will dedicate space for learning activities that span multiple weeks and is separate from the production space. The production space will remain available for single-visit use by classes.

Baseline

A limited, uncovered space exists toward the back of the farm (approximately 1,200 square feet) which is already dedicated for class use and is currently used by one class.

Progress

2018 Status
Substantial Progress
It appears 2018 or 2019 will bring covered space for learning activities to the SAP outside of production. We were fortunate to make improvements to the driveway and pathways and pending the final expenses for those, we hope to be able to add space separate from the production space.

2017 Status
Minimal Progress
No additional land was cultivated this year, but we continue to look for opportunities for covered space.

Objective 1.A.2

To increase the number of academic units engaged with the SAP.

Baseline

From 2008-2018, the SAP has hosted approximately 60 courses (most recently averaging about 12 per year).

Progress

2019 Status
Substantive Progress
Three new courses/departments are involved with the SAP this year: REL 100 ANT 340 ANT 495

2018 Status
Substantial Progress
Two new courses/departments visited the Sustainable Agriculture Project this year: CHI 201: Introduction to Chinese I – Language and Culture GEO 320: Geomorphology

Objective 1.A.4

The SAP will develop a list of resources on Sustainable Urban Agriculture in Detroit for students interested in Detroit or participating in the Semester in Detroit program. A day-long field trip will be organized and documented to visit sites in Detroit to which Farm Club members will be invited.

Baseline

This currently does not exist.

Progress

2019 Status
Minimal Progress
Some work has been done; however this has not been implemented yet.

2018 Status
Minimal Progress
Preliminary work has been done.

Objective 1.A.5

The SAP will develop a speaker series for one academic year.

Baseline

A SAP speaker series does not currently exist.

Progress

2019 Status
Minimal Progress
We have not implemented a speaker series yet but have created a list of potential speakers and hope to do so beginning Fall 2020. In January 2020, we hosted the Growing Connections Food Summit which was successful but took some planning and also utilized some of the same potential speakers.

2018 Status
Minimal Progress
Preliminary work has been done.

Objective 1.A.6

The SAP will develop a formal meeting space for supporting students conducting or interested in pursuing academic projects with the SAP (SAP Lab).

Baseline

The SAP Lab has met somewhat informally but needs to be formalized.

Progress

2019 Status
Minimal Progress
We have not formalized the SAP Lab yet although we have been trying something new based off student feedback. We still meet with students informally, and have also created a Sustainability Library and Recharge Room with space dedicated for sustainable agriculture-related resources. We may try to formalize a lab in the fall based on what we learn from students.

2018 Status
Minimal Progress
The SAP Lab has met informally, but we hope to formalize it moving forward.

Objective 1.A.7

The SAP will develop and advertise for-credit academic internships.

Baseline

A formal for-credit internship process does not exist.

Progress

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
The SAP has developed a very robust internship webpage and it is well-utilized by students.

2018 Status
Substantial Progress
The SAP has established a very robust for-credit internship program. There are currently 11 positions, and we welcome students to propose internships as well.

Objective 1.A.8

To increase the number of independent student projects using the SAP.

Progress

2018 Status
Substantial Progress
Independent projects included: SAP Mobile Market: a completely personalized and hand-built bike trailer to create cross campus access to SAP grown produce and flowers Rain Barrel System: a student updated the rain barrel system by installing a solar panel to power the pump extracting water from the barrels Standard operating procedure: a group of ENS 401 students designed standard operating procedures as a resource to provide volunteers with the objectives of any given project, the tools required, and procedure for seeing out project to completion Teaching and wellness greenhouse: a group of ENS 401 students focused on the construction of a third hoop house to make the SAP more inviting of on site class sessions, yoga and wellness practices, as well as green space, year round Healthy eating on campus through community meals: a group of ENS 401 students did a project aimed towards providing cooking demos and community meals at on campus living centers using SAP grown produce in an effort to promote healthy eating. Growing Grand video series

2017 Status
Substantive Progress
Independent Projects included: Community Garden Revitalization Solar Dehydrator Tree Planting - linguistics

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 1.C.1

The SAP will communicate regularly with alumni by providing them with updates on the program through newsletters and annual reports.

Baseline

No newsletters or annual reports are shared with alumni.

Progress

2019 Status
Substantive Progress
The SAP has seen increased engagement with alumni, but it has been mostly through social media, our blog, or in-person conversations. We will be posting our annual report shortly and will publicize it through social media and will send it to our growing list of SAP alumni contacts.

2018 Status
Minimal Progress
The SAP has seen increased engagement with alumni, but not formally through newsletters and annual reports. Instead, the SAP has seen an increase in engagement through social media and individual in-person contacts.

Objective 1.C.2

The SAP will continue to serve as a connecting point between GVSU and community members in agriculture.

Progress

2019 Status
Substantive Progress
We have not made substantial progress in the specific ways we proposed, but we hosted a well-attended food summit and have engaged with other agriculture groups (West Michigan Growers Group, local farmers/farmer's markets, etc).

2018 Status
Minimal Progress
We have not made progress in the specific ways that we proposed, but we have hosted the West Michigan Growers Group and engaged with the GVSU Farmer's Market vendors.

Strategic Priority Area 2: Further develop exceptional personnel.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 2.A.1

The SAP will develop a teaching circle through FTLC on the topic of high-impact student learning experiences at the SAP.

Baseline

This teaching circle does not currently exist.

Progress

2019 Status
Minimal Progress
The teaching circle has not been developed yet.

2018 Status
Minimal Progress
The teaching circle has not been developed yet.

Objective 2.A.2

The SAP will develop a workshop for the FTLC annual teaching conference.

Baseline

A workshop has not been developed yet.

Progress

2019 Status
Minimal Progress
A workshop has not been developed yet.

2018 Status
Minimal Progress
A workshop has not yet been developed.

Strategic Priority Area 3: Ensure the alignment of institutional structures and functions.

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 3.C.2

By 2021, the SAP will develop a long-term reciprocal community relationship.

Baseline

This currently does not exist.

Progress

2019 Status
Minimal Progress
A long-term reciprocal community relationship has not been formalized.

2018 Status
Minimal Progress
A long-term reciprocal community relationship has not been formalized.

Strategic Priority Area 4: Enhance the institution's image and reputation.

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 4.B.1

The SAP will develop an urban site that is visible and will target serving populations that are under-served by the local foods movement.

Baseline

There is no urban site.

Progress

2019 Status
Minimal Progress
There have been many conversations and collaborations, but an urban site has not been identified yet. However, other urban farms have offered some internship opportunities to GVSU students so they may still gain that valuable experience.

2018 Status
Minimal Progress
There have been a lot of conversations and collaborations with potential partners for an urban garden, but we have not found the perfect fit yet.

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