Green Mountain College Introduces New Intensive Sustainable Agriculture Major


photo: Green Mountain College

Potential students listen up. How I wish there had been majors such as this when I was in college. Green Mountain College, a small liberal arts college in Vermont, has introduced an intensive Sustainable Agriculture Major. The school was already known for its focus on sustainability. As Blythe wrote, the campus's Farm & Food Project lets students participate in the growing process, from gardening organically to driving oxen. But now students can center their entire course of study around sustainable agriculture. Green Mountain College has introduced a Sustainable Agriculture Major starting in the fall 2010 semester. The classroom, if you'd like to call it that, will consist of a 22-acre working sustainable farm with a classroom and offices situated inside the farm's solar harvest center. Studies will hit on a range of topics including "food systems presented through the lenses of history, anthropology, the natural sciences, philosophy, business, economics, and art."

In 2008, the school was awarded a $110,000 grant from The Jensen/Hinman Family Fund to get the program started. Last year the school received a $15,000 grant from Vermont's Windham Foundation, which will be used to study how to produce the highest crop yields on the farm using the least possible energy. Researchers at the school are looking to be innovators in the field of sustainable agriculture using methods like thermal root-zone heating, which warms the soil at the roots of plants through a intricate system of underground hot water radiant tubing.

"Our 22-acre farm has become an agricultural lab of sorts, and our students contribute to the research," said Philip Ackerman-Leist, director of the College's Farm & Food Project and associate professor of environmental studies. "Like traditional ag programs students will learn a lot about agricultural practices and systems. They'll also learn how to be part of the current food revolution that is transforming farming and how we view food."

More on College:
10 of the Greenest Colleges in the U.S
Green College Rankings Now Available From The Princeton Review
Grading Green Schools: The College Sustainability Report Card 2009

Tags: Agriculture | Vermont