Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SAEA Conference Update

The SAEA conference in Corvallis, Oregon was a wonderful opportunity for SOFT students to meet with other student and university level groups and advocates to share ideas and innovations for sustainable agriculture education. SOFT was very interested in participating in this conference, not only because it was a wonderful opportunity to learn the latest innovations with agriculture education, but also to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the student farm. This conference provided a medium for our students to really connect with similar student groups who are facing similar problems in all corners of the United States. 
Gathering Together Farm--Philomath, OR
I was surprised, yet assured to learn that many other student farms are facing very similar, if not identical, problems as the ones we face at the University of Hawaii. We were fortunate enough to have a large range of diversity as far as  the succes and maturity of student farm/agriculture education programs available to share their backgrounds and schools of thought. One key factor that was really emphasized at this conference was that it is near impossible to have a successful student farm without an on-site farm manager. In addition, good organization on the part of the students and a sense of ownership, created by team building activities, are also important to have as part of the student farm program. 
I got a lot of great ideas about what SOFT can do in order to integrate better with the University and hopefully make a positive impact in the school, and the greater Hawaii. Most importantly, I think that the goal at the top of our short term list should be to find a way to get a farm manager and integrate SOFT into the curriculum, if not a sustainable agriculture track. 

More information about the conference can be found at :

Zena Farm--Willamette Valley

Possible projects that SOFT should think about:
-Participating in the Real Food Challenge
-Collaborating with other food systems classes ( also get the campus cafeteria involved--tours?)
-Create a networking hub (community donations for food pantry
-Look into geting funding from Organic farmers
-Aggregating faculty for class integration
-Initiate a Student Sustainability Initiative
-Host public lectures*
-Provide hours of operation in front (easy!)
-Sodexo should be paying us

Ideas for integrated classes (TPSS 364?)
-student presentations on hot ag topics
-service learning project-community involvement 
-assessment of the student farms sustainability (how to improve)
-gather insight from
-qualitative analysis vis reflective essays
-*public lectures
-use pre-existing classes!
-grants for building materials for architecture student projects?
-699 class to teach by graduate students
-can TPSS offer a minor or certificate?
 -cooking workshops, field trips, interviews, farm work

Find out the costs associated with integrated classes
-contact effective programs for costs of manager, etc (field technician pay?)
-instill sense of ownership by students
-apply for work-study for paid student help
-take note of student contact hours, visitors, tours
***Farm manager is key to a successful student farm!
-start a kick starter (video, etc?)
-keep records of everything for details
-skill share group?
-SAEA website good source of contact for other s-farms
-Past SAEA break out group notes posted online!
-manager funding form Americorps?
-look up how SOFT fits into strategic plan
-get into sustainable ag articles
Zena Farm--Willamette Valley

Session 2 (Open session 1): Attracting new members to student farms

Engage the international students: They often know more about farming then the traditional
American student
Important to have non-farming related activities at the farm to attract new members: Cooking
events with food grown on farm, cider pressing events, canning events, making stuff people can
take home with them
Importance of relational organizing Farm should be a space where a group of people work
together to accomplish a mission. Perpetuate an environment that fosters relationships
between people
Leaders of an organization often have many tasks to do and risk burnout or a loss of interest, so
constantly seeking new members/training potential leaders should a priority
People are seeking a sense of purpose (esp. freshman). Build a strong sense of community in
order to draw new members in. Important that people feel like their ideas/voice will be heard.
o People participate in group organizations for two reasons:
They’re extremely passionate about the subject
They have a personal investment with the group (showing up to meet/talk with
their friends)
Evaluate prospective new members on three things:
1) The persons skills ( how they can help you, where can you plug them into your organization)
2) How passionate they are (why they came out in the first place?)
3) Capacity (How busy are they? What is their potential time commitment to your

  • Have ways to show people what you are doing and update regularly: Blog, twitter, facebook
  • Get administration to sign the “Real food campus commitment”: where University pledges to
  • buy 20% real food by 2020

Session 3 (Open Session 2): Student Farm Systems
  • At Duke University they fund student farm half with dining services money and half with a
  • University sustainability fund.
  • Hold skill sharing workshops
  • Give new members diverse jobs to work on
  • Have a group of grad students teach a course
  • Farm managers typically paid the salary of a field technician
  • Look into USDA Higher Education Challenge Grants and Hawaii specific USDA grants

Session 4: Student Farms: Pedagogy and Learning
  • Student-led Food Service: How Students are feeding the Campus, Influencing Policy, and Gaining Job
  • Skills for the New Local Food Economy.

Evergreen College (Flaming Eggplant Cafe)
Student run food service café
  • Implemented a one time student fee to raise money to start food truck on campus that was
  • widely supported by student population
  • Serve meals from $1-$8, offers vegetarian and gluten-free meals, most popular item is
  • kombucha on tap.
  • COFED food authority (Cooperative food empowerment directives)

St. Olaf Garden Research and Organic Works
  • Students are employees of their food server on campus (Bon appétit) and are paid by them
  • Harvest fest events, seedling adoption (students in dorm raise a small plant and bring it back to
  • the farm later on to plant)
  • Plan events with other student organizations

The UBC Farm experience: Growing a Centre for Sustainable Food Systems in Vancouver, Canada UBC
farms (Canada)
  • Provide students and the community with hands on experiential learning
  • Farm was designated for housing developed, but they fought back with 16,000 signatures and
  • flocks of students and research project started happening on the farm
  • Offered short courses (2 weeks) with international students
  • Offered an engineering design course produce washes
  • Make academic relevance of farm known to people

Montana State University: A Varied Classroom for Sustainable Food Systems Education
  • Sustainable crop production is a balance between education vs. end result
  • Farm should be a place where students are gaining professional experience so they become
  • competitive applicants and can get a job when they graduate
  • Focus on growing their employees so when their done, their growing/farming as a career
  • Offer summer coursework
  • Built a community food truck
  • Offered community $5 fill your produce bag events

DISCUSSION: Linking Student Farms and Sustainable Ag Majors: Experiential Learning In and Out of

the Classroom
  • Farm manager paid out of fee from summer programs
  • Develop your production system to generate revenue and become self-funding.
  • Hire students through work study programs.
  • Academic coordinator should act a liaison and be 1st point of contact with anyone interested in
  • working with student farm.
  • o They should also be actively facilitating interest in the program and work to integrate
  • program with the curriculum
  • Charge schools for children to come and have lessons at the farm

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