Hands-on sustainable agriculture using chestnuts and hazelnuts
Year of Report 2015-2016
Over the summer of 2015, two CWHS agriculture students worked with staff from Eastern Illinois University in the trial orchard in Casey, IL. The goal for the students was to get them experience in the full process of evaluating crops from a scientific standpoint. These students were responsible for regular planting maintenance (pruning, weeding and mulching). More importantly, these students worked with researchers from EIU in collecting data on the plantings, focusing on the hazelnuts in the orchard. They were involved in collecting data on winter damage, extension growth, leaf phenology, and plant stress using a chlorophyll fluorescence meter. These data are necessary to evaluating the varieties in the orchard for their suitability for local production.
The graduate student that is leading the hazelnut evaluation project developed and presented a program on sustainable agriculture to CWHS students in four sections of their Bio I class (approximately 20 students/section). This presentation introduced students to the general themes of sustainable agriculture, its environmental benefits and the specifics of chestnut/hazelnut culture, the focus for the CWHS orchard. This graduate student also presented information on her own educational path as an alternative model for people interested in agriculture.
WORK PLAN FOR 2016
We are going to revise the educational programming that we did for next year and work with the science department to expand student involvement in the orchard as it matures. We will also continue to work with the Ag students on orchard maintenance and similar issues.