Sustaianble Food and Farming Projects

Experiential learning and hands-on practice is central to our major. We encourage our students to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty!  Over the years, SFF students have initiated countless hands-on learning projects that have become central to their learning experience here at UMass. Below are some of the projects and initiatives created and run by students and staff.  Most of these have been eligible for academic credit.

 

On Campus Projects:

1. The UMass Student Farming Enterprise is a full year academic program that offers students an opportunity to gain hands-on year found farming and marketing experience. Student farmers manage 14 acres of land, have a 125-member CSA share, and sell to four Big Y locations, UMass Dining, and student businesses on campus. Our farm was even ranked 5th best in the nation. Great experience, credits, and a summer job! Check out our Instagram!

Contact Instructor Amanda Brown: amandabrown@umass.edu 

2. The Stockbridge Livestock Program offers a farmer’s perspective on the sustainable management of animal husbandry. Guided by Nicole Burton, students engage in experiential learning programming including poultry, pigs, turkeys, and sheep rotations within organic vegetable production, carbon farming systems and on farm slaughter.  

Contact Instructor Nikki Burton: ngburton@umass.edu

3. The UMass Permaculture Initiative was created by a group of Stockbridge students in 2010 to provide empowering hands-on education and leadership training, community engagement, and fresh, local, organic produce and herbs to the UMass campus. The initiative builds and maintains highly productive and educational, edible gardens on campus (by converting underused grass lawns!) designed using permaculture principles. See the most recent happenings on Instagram

Contact Instructor Dan Bensonoff: dbensonoff@umass.edu

4. UMass HydroFarm is a student-run hydroponic farm growing greens for campus dining halls and student-run businesses. Students engage in the construction and management of hydroponic systems!

Contact Professor Stephen Herbert: sherbert@cns.umass.edu

5. The UMass Bee Keeping Club raises bees at the Permaculture Garden. They also hold club meetings to discuss things such as bee anatomy, bee species, equipment, and beekeeping 101.

6. UMass Carbon Farming Initiative is a one-acre silvopasture plot where sheep graze in between native Chestnut trees. The intentional planting of the chestnut trees combined with rotational grazing of sheep sequesters carbon from the atmosphere back into the ground. 

Contact Instructor Lisa DePiano: ldepiano@umass.edu

7. Sustainable Floral Design is a class that incorporates hands-on experiences working with campus clients to create floral designs with local flowers using sustainable approaches to design. 

Contact Instructor Sarah Berquist: sbberqui@umass.edu 

Off Campus Projects: 

8. The Amherst School Gardens Internship offers students the opportunity to engage directly with K-6 students and teachers in Amherst Public Schools using school gardens as living classrooms where kids get their hands dirty, learn lessons from nature, and learn how food based education connects us all to science, social studies, and art.

Contact Instructor Sarah Berquist: sbberqui@umass.edu 

 

9. GardenShare is a student run garden managed by SFF majors, just off campus. This space is used to grow food and host community social events, such as garden parties, potlucks, and outdoor concerts!

Contact Students Ryan Schaeffer (rschaeffer@umass.edu) and Bridget McAndrews (bmcandrews@umass.edu)

10. Finally, students may gain valuable experience by working with other farms, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and community groups.  Most students in the major participate in paid or volunteer internships while earning academic credit toward the major in Sustainable Food and Farming.  Some of their experiences are shared on the Student Blogs Page.

If you don't see an activity that interests you in the list above, start your own!  Experiential learning is the heart of this major and most students participate in internships or apprenticeships on local farms, non-profit organizations, government agencies, regiional food businesses, or may study abroad.  These experiences can count toward the graduation requirements in the major.