Courtesy of John McKeith
By Julia Bayly, BDN Employees •
December 1, 2018 6:00 am
Ivy Enoch grew up in western Maine listening to tales from her father, paternal grandfather and nice uncles about their household farm again in Oklahoma.
“My dad’s family is all from Oklahoma and for hundreds of years lived on the same farm there,” Enoch stated. “I was raised with a love for western Maine and on paternal family stories of the farm in Oklahoma.”
That farm fell out of the household’s palms in the late 1980s when the nation was hit with a downturn in the agriculture financial system sparked by the United State’s 1980 grain embargo towards the previous Soviet Union.
“I was the first generation out of four or five [generations] that did not grow up on a farm in Oklahoma,” Enoch stated. “After the [grain] embargo was put in place, the farm sort of died a slow death.”
The household tales Enoch heard painted a life-style that was tied to the land and planted a seed inside her that ultimately led Enoch to School of The Atlantic, and its farming and food methods program.
Courtesy of Ivy Enoch
Farming as enterprise and policy
In a area the place upcoming generations of farmers as soon as discovered farming from their mother and father and grandparents immediately on the land, increasingly future farmers and food techniques policy makers are enrolling in Maine post-secondary diploma programs specializing in agriculture, food sovereignty and sustainable rising.
Increasingly more, these programs are taking the place of that generational information as there are fewer household farms in Maine than there have been even a era or so in the past.
Most of Maine’s public, personal schools and universities supply some type of agriculture diploma programs or certificates, in response to the web database maintained by US School Search.
“So many of these programs are cropping up,” stated Ellen Sabina, outreach director at Maine Farmland Belief. “These days in farming you need to know so many things to be a successful farmer [such as] science, economics, politics and policy, so going into a post-secondary program can work well for some people who want to get into farming.”
These programs vary from structured classroom-based concept levels to on-the-job apprenticeships at collaborating farms in Maine.
“Different people learn in different ways,” Sibina stated. “So having a range of [program] options is important.”
Within the classroom
College students in the College of Maine’s sustainable agriculture baccalaureate program spend the majority of their time in the classroom the place Eric Gallandt, professor of weed ecology in the varsity of food and agriculture, stated they profit from the school’s deep dedication to analysis in their respective fields.
“In our programs you have students learning from experts,” Gallandt stated. “Students can learn about farming in a number of different ways, and we look to give them an appreciation for sustainable agriculture and guide them if they want to go on into farming or further their education with advanced degrees.”
This system, Gallandt stated, takes an interdisciplinary strategy taking a look at subjects similar to crop rotation, erosion, pest administration, water high quality, economics and ecological codecs of farming that scale back using chemical use on the land.
College students do get some hands-on expertise in the course of the faculty yr working on the college’s greenhouse elevating greens and microgreens to be used in the campus eating corridor, Gallandt stated, in addition to working with space farmers to supply the Black Bear Food Guild group supported agriculture share program in the Orono space.
It’s a theory-based strategy that works nicely for college kids like fourth-year scholar Madison Lawler.
“Much of what I learn surrounds the concept of farming in a way that will not damage our ecosystem,” Lawler stated. “I think the most important lesson I have learned is the sort of domino effect that intensive, conventional farming is having, [and] that it’s a big picture with many moving parts, [and] what I am learning now is now to maintain those parts so the whole machine doesn’t crash.”
Lawler cites the current nationwide E.Coli warning in reference to romaine lettuce from California as an ideal instance of why right now’s farmers have to look sustainability.
“Sustainable agriculture is about more than just the food,” Lawler stated “It maintains soil quality, mimics a natural ecosystem that doesn’t damage the land and ensures the production of healthy, wholesome food.”
Fellow UMaine scholar Delaney Overlock agrees. “Our current food production strategies, especially in the Midwest, are anything but sustainable,” she stated. “I am not against conventional farming whatsoever, but [it] can be done in a sustainable, responsible way that does not harm the environment, [and] includes small farms which allows the consumer to really know where their food is coming from and know their farmer.”
John McKeith | BDN
Studying by getting soiled
At Unity School the sustainable agriculture main places college students in direct contact with farming to provide them hands-on expertise in the dust.
“Here at Unity I’ve learned not only about sustainable agriculture, but how to manage and set up my own farming business,” senior Cathryn Kandle stated. “Now I can’t wait to have my own farm one day and be part of a changing food system.”
College students like Kandle are the way forward for agriculture in Maine and the nation, in response to Doug Fox, Unity School professor of sustainable agriculture.
“A lot of these young farmers really want to move the whole [agriculture] industry forward,” Fox stated. “We don’t have all the answers yet on how to grow food sustainably and financially, and they want to be an active part in problem solving and moving things forward.”
Fox stated the scholars work instantly with farmers in Maine experiencing actual life conditions and challenges confronted by food producers.
“Our students can then understand the problems that need solving,” Fox stated. “It’s a very participatory quest for environmentally sustainable food production.”
The Unity program additionally teaches college students how you can develop a working farm plan, safe financing, learn how to calculate depreciation of farm equipment and look at their very own ethics relating to food production.
The lack of generational connections
It’s a courageous new world for at present’s food producers and growers, Fox stated, with farmers needing to know as a lot about insurance policies as they do about methods to develop issues.
Many college students, he stated, are coming into the Unity program with no farming expertise and programs like those in Maine are changing the generational information that was as soon as handed down proper on the farms.
“Unfortunately, we have lost a lot of the traditions where older generations taught farming to their children and grandchildren,” Fox stated. “Now we are seeing folks who are not from faming backgrounds wanting to get into farming, and that is where university education comes in.”
“That really speaks to the fact that we are seeing a lot of first generation farmers,” stated Sabina. “I would guess a lot of the folks in these programs are coming from nonfarming backgrounds.”
Publish-secondary agriculture and farming programs, she stated, will help future farmers achieve that food production information wanted shifting ahead.
“If I had just gone out on my own I could probably have learned as I went how to farm,” Kandle stated. “But here at Unity, I have learned how to farm, and how to manage and set up to be a financially successful farming business.”
New farming paths
Kourtney Collum, chair of the food and sustainable agriculture program at School of The Atlantic, stated the elevated curiosity on the elements of growers and shoppers in sustainable food production has created new profession paths for college kids in agriculture.
“About 30 percent of our students actually go on to farm,” Collum stated. “A lot go through the program and end up opening restaurants, creating value-added businesses or go into the policy side of food production working with nonprofits.”
In recognition of these choices, School of The Atlantic’s program has advanced to incorporate an emphasis on the social sciences.
“In addition to classic agriculture courses in soils and other sciences, we offer a lot having to do with food sovereignty, social justice and policy development,” Collum stated. “Our students can fully understand why people are hungry and the root causes of hunger, and think about ways to adjust food production.”
School of The Atlantic college students additionally work on the varsity’s two production farms elevating greens and meat animals to be used in the campus eating corridor, to promote at native farm stands and to provide space eating places.
“Small, diversified farms are becoming more competitive,” Collum stated. “Working on our farms allows them to see how farms run as a business, how to think about things like crop rotation, see purchasing and all the nitty-gritty things that go along with running a business.”
Enoch, who graduated from School of the Atlantic in 2018 and works in the campus’ admission workplace, stated she can’t think about taking a look at trendy farming with out taking the social implications under consideration.
“Food is fundamental to human existence,” she stated. “It is so important and the policies around it are so important that you really have to study history, ecology, economics, and sometimes even religion to get a grasp on food systems and agricultural practices.”
On the similar time, Enoch stated the hands-on work on the faculty’s farms has left her with a want to return to the soil.
“This job as an admissions counselor is one of the first jobs I’ve had where my hands are not in the dirt,” she stated. “I’ve always seemed to have my hands in the dirt and like to imagine that will always be the case, but I also want to work on becoming some sort of policy bridge-maker to bridge the gap between farmers and the people in power to make the [agriculture] policies.”
Fox stated trendy food production programs are sending college students out properly ready to hitch the ranks of right now’s and future producers and the policy makers.
“Students today are really looking for ways to be environmentally sustainable and financially viable in food production,” Fox stated. “These programs are really oriented to send them in that direction.”