Farming New England: A Deep Dive Into the Regional Food System Winter 2024

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Farmers feed us all. In this intensive experiential course, students will learn how. New England produces about 10 percent of its own food: 90 percent of the food is imported from outside the region. Farming in this region has been in decline for decades and farms face a range of challenges, from flood, drought, and debt, to farmland loss, social isolation, and aging infrastructure. With innovation, investment, creativity, and sustainable solutions, New England farms can succeed, but only with effective policies, financial support, and a younger generation of capable farmers. This class examines the complexities of the regional food system from multiple perspectives: farming, agronomy, finances, climate change, food insecurity, food systems planning, agricultural policy, agricultural economics, markets, social justice, land use and planning. Five overarching questions shape the class: What are the challenges and opportunities for farming in New England? How can New England’s agriculture succeed and expand? How is sustainable/regenerative farming part of the solution? What will it take for the region to produce more of its own food and create regional food security? How can farming be more socially just and racially equitable? Students will learn through immersion in the agricultural world for the month. Class meets three days a week: two days a week of farm work on a variety of farms (livestock, cow & goat dairy, cheesemaking, diversified farms, vegetable & greenhouse, and hops farm/brewery, and the Food Bank), and one day a week meeting with experts: agronomists, extension workers, migrant workers/advocates, farmland planners, agricultural/food system policymakers, and elected officials. Students will learn through hands-on work, conversation with farmers and others in the agricultural/food systems field, class reading, independent research, group discussion, reflection, and writing. The class culminates at the New England Organic Farm Assoc conference. Interested students should complete the following application by November 1st: https://forms.gle/ZjDvNqjgEsbjbWr96
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 6
Expected: NA
Class#: 1164
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: Short paper and final project or presentation; Article suitable for publication in a regional newspaper + public class presentation.
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: Environmental Studies majors and concentrators; students with a demonstrated interest in agriculture.
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses

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