Community Classroom of Hope (CCOH), a new residential permaculture garden program proposed by Stockbridge students Jo Fuchs and Hannah Gould, will be operationalized by the campus community in 2023.
The proposal submitted by Fuchs and Gould was awarded one of five Undergraduate Sustainability Research Awards for 2023. Both are students in the Stockbridge Sustainable Food & Farming major.
Two goals of the proposed CCOH project are the addition of a new outdoor classroom and permaculture garden, to be located in the Northeast residential area of the UMass Amherst campus.
By using the new facilities, members of the campus can participate in "prioritizing the health and well-being of the land and community through ecological diversity, valuing our renewable resources, and preventing waste."
"I hope to inspire young people to become stewards and listeners of nature, and to demonstrate ways of living with -- instead of on top of -- the land." says Jo Fuchs '24.
The CCOH project proposes a solution for "the feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and pessimism that affect college students, robbed of meaningful community and connection on their campuses, and concerned with the pressing issues of our time, including climate resilience, sustainable farming, and community development."
"This is done through the medium of permaculture, a regenerative and holistic way of farming that engages communities and prioritizes 'Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share' ethics and encourages 'constructive hope,'" write Fuchs and Gould.
By focusing on sustainability through all aspects of the design process, CCOH hopes to stimulate long-term student, faculty, and staff engagement, so they can "gain accountability for their surroundings and feel inspired by their role in the future of our campus and environment."
Jo Fuchs '24 plans to become an outdoor educator after she graduates. "Stockbridge, the Permaculture Initiative, and the Cultivating Classrooms of Hope project have all provided me with invaluable skill to apply to the field, hopefully with young children."
Hannah Gould '25 plans to build a career in agriculture and agricultural advocacy, to "work towards making lasting positive impacts within sustainability and conservation, whether at the state or national level."
Says Gould, "I am inspired by my education here at UMass Amherst to pursue a career which immerses me in sustainability, and consistently advocates for the wellbeing of humans, animals, and the planet."
Outdoor leadership, agricultural education, and policy advocacy around land and food represent some of the skill sets available to students in the Sustainable Food & Farming major.
The two Sustainable Food & Farming majors will split a $1000 scholarship awarded by the UMass Amherst Libraries.
The Undergraduate Sustainable Research Award program promotes in-depth understanding of sustainability topics, research strategies and the use of library resources, providing participating students with vital skills they will carry into future academic and vocational endeavors.