- Education and Training: mentoring, workshop, youth education
Thru the presentation of information followed by discussion, the students learned about the history of agriculture in our country. We examined the timeline of events that shaped the industrial agriculture system we know today. Large industrial scale operations were discussed vs. small family farms, conventional vs. organic farming methods were evaluated and policy was touched upon. The concepts presented were designed to define sustainability and how it pertains to agriculture.
Included in the discussions were issues of biodiversity, its importance and the loss of it in the agricultural realm. Thru weekly tastings we addressed fruit and vegetable varietals, and the importance of native plants to our food system. We talked about what it means to eat in season and examined closely where food is grown. Thru this process we discussed nutrition and its importance.
The students planted four raised beds and direct sowed seeds for a late fall harvest. Many of the students had never been exposed to growing food. The students tended the beds each week, weeding and watering and monitoring the success and failure of plants within these beds.
We brought in an urban beekeeper as a speaker for one of our classes. A demonstration hive was part of the presentation and we discussed the roll of pollinators within agriculture.
During our final class we harvested vegetables that the student planted. The students washed and prepared salads. We also cooked applesauce as a hands-on process to gain insight into food preparation and preservation.
All sessions took place at Triton College with the exception of the final session which took place on the grounds of the Elmwood Park high school. At Triton, we worked in the classroom as well as in the greenhouse and gardens.
We planted seeds directly in prepared garden beds, watered these beds and harvested vegetables when ready. We cooked and prepped vegetables in the classroom as well at in the kitchen at the high school.
RESULTS SO FAR
Thru experiential experiences, the students gained valuable insights into growing successes and failure. Having the opportunity to taste various fresh foods on a weekly basis was invaluable when discussing nutrition and biodiversity. Talking with a beekeeper and seeing a hive up close de-mystified the honey collection process and taught the importance of tiny animals to the balance of our ecosystem. The exercise of preparing and processing food gave students first-hand experience with prep and preservation. This exercise facilitated in-depth conversations about sustainable eating and the roll it plays within sustainable agriculture. Initially, the project was scheduled to be delivered in the summer however, we had a turnover in faculty and were unable to start on time. The program was delivered as an after-school model, which worked quite well.
WORK PLAN FOR 2018
Although the program was successful, the college does not have sufficient financial resources or faculty to continue the program in 2018.
Recruitment outreach efforts consisted of marketing at Triton College’s Fall Fest, open house and active recruitment at Elmwood Park high school.