Want to Major in Sustainable Food and Farming?

The Bachelor of Sciences degree in Sustainable Food and Farming is a welcoming home for those students who want to apply their knowledge of biology, environmental science, sociology, anthropology, policy, health and education to the real world!

Our students get involved in the world!

Sustainable Food and Farming Graduates 2014
Sustainable Food and Farming Graduates 2014

Many students at UMass find that while they have a desire to be useful in the world, their area of study turns out to be a bit abstract and they are disappointed when their classes seem to be disconnected from the real world.  If this is the case…..

the Stockbridge School of Agriculture welcomes you!

Our major in Sustainable Food and Farming allows students to create their own degree plan, while earning a B.S. degree from UMass.   Working closely with an adviser, our students select courses from a diverse set of interest areas at UMass and the Five Colleges.  They are encouraged to get involved in internships which count toward their major.   And each academic plan is custom designed based on the student’s personal passion and career goals.

This major is about growing food….. and much, much more!  Our students are headed for careers in:

  • local ecological farming and marketing
  • community-based education for sustainability
  • public policy, advocacy and community development
  • permaculture and community gardening
  • food justice
  • medicinal herbals
  • and more…

If you are struggling with your current major and would like to explore your options in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, please contact Dr. John M. Gerber for an appointment.

A few fall classes that may be of interest are:

STOCKSCH 197D – Draft Horse Husbandry (get up close and personal with some really big horses.  Meets at the AG Learning Center.  Very hands-on!)

STOCKSCH 197G – Intro to Permaculture (both the application and ethics of ecological living)

STOCKSCH 197 MC – Intro to Mushroom Culture (practical class that fills up fast)

STOCKSCH 211 – Pasture Management (for the serious farming student who wants to work with livestock)

STOCKSCH 265 – Sustainable Agriculture (field trips to local farms every Tuesday afternoon)

STOCKSCH 281 – Topics in Herbalism I (Chris Marano is the guy to know on local herbalism)

STOCKSCH 297 AL – Ag Leadership and Community Education (Sarah Berquist will teach you how to be an effective community leader)

STOCKSCH 297P – Small Farm Husbandry II – Pigs and Poultry (small class, very practical – fills fast)

STOCKSCH  300 – Deciduous Orchard Science (field trips to local orchards every Wednesday afternoon)

STOCKSCH 350 – Sustainable Soil and Crop Management (for the serious farming student)

STOCKSCH 397C – Community Food Systems (best local food systems class on campus)

STOCKSCH 397 GB – Grapevine Biology (new class on growing grapes)

STOCKSCH 397 PB – Pollinator Biology and Habitat (very practical science class with lots of work outdoors)

For more classes, see: Requirements for the Major

Stockbridge School of Ag Students Serve the Local Community

amherstbulleJohn M. Gerber      –     Friday, February 27, 2015

One of the most exciting programs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst today is an undergraduate major that serves the citizens of Amherst and surrounding towns by growing food, growing community and “growing” new farmers.

As local and regional food production expands in New England, so does enrollment in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture’s Sustainable Food and Farming program. UMass graduates are engaged in creating ventures to relocalize the food system to create more community and to reduce the carbon cost of shipping food long distances.

UMass began as the Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1863 and recently the former “Mass Aggie” was recognized as having the third-best agricultural science program in the U.S. and the eighth best in the world. Levi Stockbridge, Hadley farmer and one of the first teachers at Mass Aggie, would be proud. Building on its historic mission of practical research, outreach to the community and hands-on education, today’s Stockbridge School helps educate young women and men in ecological landscape management and sustainable food systems — crucial training in an era threatened by the impact of radical climate change.

Many Stockbridge students and grads are committed to implementing the Food Solutions New England vision of producing at least half of New England’s food by 2060. They contribute to this goal by working toward careers in local food and farming, urban agriculture, permaculture, herbal medicine, community education and advocacy for a more sustainable and just world.

An example of a local business providing students with valuable experience is the All Things Local Cooperative Market in downtown Amherst, started by area people committed to the relocalization vision. Stockbridge students and graduates volunteer at this year-round farmers’ market, some selling products they produced themselves, such as organic eggs, milk, artisan tea, blueberries, fermented kombucha, mushrooms and other vegetables.

Other Stockbridge students engage with their local community by working with Grow Food Amherst, a network of neighbors and students uniting town and gown. Amherst Development and Conservation Director David Ziomek planted the seed, and Sustainability Coordinator Stephanie Ciccarello nurtures the project with monthly meetings that engage over 450 residents helping to move Amherst towards greater food-resiliency.

Many students gain valuable experience by working on local farms, nonprofit organizations, co-ops, local businesses and community groups. The vibrant local food economy of the Pioneer Valley provides a supportive environment for food entrepreneurs, and Stockbridge is closely tied to this rapidly growing community of young people.

Building on Levi Stockbridge’s commitment to experiential learning, students in the Sustainable Food and Farming major are actively engaged in hands-on learning projects that contribute both to their own education as well as to the local community. For example: The UMass Student Farm is a year-round class where students manage a small organic farm and sell their produce through food service and retail markets — including a popular on-campus farmers’ market.

The Permaculture Initiative has converted underused grass lawns on campus into edible, low-maintenance food gardens, winning the White House Champions of Change competition in 2012.

The Massachusetts Renaissance Center Garden is a demonstration garden open to the public, featuring the herbs and vegetables grown during Shakespeare’s time.

The Student Food Advocacy group and Chancellor Subbaswamy signed the Real Food Commitment, which ensures that by 2020, at least 20 percent of the food purchased for the dining halls will be local, organic, fair trade and animal-friendly.

The School Garden Project helps K-6 teachers at Amherst elementary schools create vegetable and herb gardens as living classrooms.

The Food for All Garden at the new Undergraduate Agricultural Learning Center is a student-led project that grows food with the help of Amherst community members, and distributes the food through Not Bread Alone and the Amherst Survival Center.

Stockbridge students and alums are committed to building a more sustainable food system focused on environmental quality, social justice and economic vitality. These young visionaries imagine a world where the bulk of one’s food comes from local and regional farms. They believe that a consciousness rooted in sustainability will deepen as producers and consumers become more self-aware members of a community of caring for each other and the earth.

But these young entrepreneurs need our help. We buy food from local farmers at a rate far greater than the national average, yet these purchases represent less than 10 percent of total agricultural sales. We can do better. We can support these young people by buying their products from local farms, at our new All Things Local Cooperative, and at our weekly farmers’ markets.

At the same time we can invest in one of the key economic development objectives of the Amherst Master Plan, relocalization, and help the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture grow local food, grow community and grow more local farmers.

John Gerber is a member of the Pioneer Valley Relocalization Project, a professor in the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture and founding member of Grow Food Amherst.

Source URL: http://www.amherstbulletin.com/commentary/15821972-95/john-gerber-new-life-for-an-old-school-the-stockbridge-school-of-agriculture

Praying for an Indepdendent Life for Chloe Rombach

Family and friends of Chloe Rombach have learned to find hope in the smallest signs since the 22-year-old suffered a severe brain injury when she was struck by a car in December.

She can breathe on her own now. She opens her eyes. The family believes there are times when she might be making eye contact. Other times she moves her fingers or an arm a little when asked.

“We don’t know what level she’ll eventually reach,” said her father, Edward Rombach, 62, of Marblehead. “We’re just praying for the best possible outcome.”

He says the family is well aware they are in this for the long haul.

“The doctors keep saying, ‘this isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon,’” Rombach said. “I fully expect to be deeply engaged in this for the rest of my life.”

Rombach said he and his family take heart from even the slightest indication of improvement.

“Whenever we have a toast,” Rombach said, pausing a moment to control his emotions, “we raise a glass and say, ‘To an independent life.’”

Chloe Rombach moved to western Massachusetts to attend UMass Amherst, graduating two years ago. Most recently, she lived on Bridge Street in Northampton. She was crossing the street in a crosswalk near her home when she was struck by a car on the night of Dec. 9.

No charges have been filed against the driver, Kenzie Kimble-Badgett, 18, of 8 Button Road in Easthampton. Police said after the accident that the dark and rain likely made for poor visibility, and that drugs and alcohol do not appear to have been factors in the accident.

Rombach was dragged by the car and pinned underneath for about 20 minutes while firefighters worked to move the vehicle. She was rushed to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.

“The evening of Dec. 9 and my wife and I were just finishing up dinner and there was a knock on the door. It was Marblehead police,” said her father. The officers communicated the information about the accident that Northampton Police had told them.

A nor’easter was dumping torrential rain on the state that night. “It was a three-hour drive in the driving rain, not knowing what we were going to find,” he said. “That was a horrific night.”

His daughter suffered third-degree burns and cuts in the accident, but her most serious injury is a diffuse axonal brain injury, according to her father. It is an injury affecting a large area of the brain that is caused by the brain moving back and forth inside the skull. In Chloe Rombach’s case, it caused life-threatening brain swelling.

Modest progress

In the days immediately after the accident, doctors at Baystate Medical Center performed a craniectomy to remove two sizable skull plates over her frontal cortex to relieve the pressure from the swelling, according to her father. Doctors also said it is likely her brain was further injured by oxygen deprivation while she was pinned under the car.

On Saturday, a neurological examination at Massachusetts General Hospital determined that Chloe Rombach is ready to have the surgery to put the skull plates back in, probably sometime in March. It’s another good sign, her parents believe.

“She’s making modest progress,” her father said.

She breathes on her own, though through a tracheotomy tube. She also has a feeding tube, and infections are always a risk, he said. She is visited by physical therapists, respiratory therapists, and many more specialists who try to help her along.

Rombach and his wife, Jeannie, visit Chloe every day at the rehabilitation hospital 10 minutes from their home. Edward Rombach, who is unemployed, said being at the hospital with his daughter is “my job now.”

Jeannie Rombach, 60, has been taking time off from her job as a special education teacher in Marblehead, though she will have to go back to work soon, according to her husband. Their older daughter, A.J. Rombach, an artist in Philadelphia, came back to Massachusetts the day after the accident and spent nine weeks with her sister, though she is now back home.

Community support

The family created a CaringBridge website where they post daily updates about Chloe’s condition for loved ones to read. Rombach said there seems to be an infinite number of sympathetic people, from friends of friends and co-workers to extended family members, who have offered “support, prayers, intentions and thoughts.” A friend started a crowdfunding website to collect donations for the family’s medical expenses, and it has raised over $33,207.

Rombach said he feels thankful to all the people who have extended help to the family. “That’s really what’s sustained us,” he said.

“When this happened I felt like I was pushed out the window of a high building and I was falling to my death. All the prayers, the meals that showed up, the people lending us cars and making donations, it was like a safety net keeping me from falling,” he said. “They were like angels lifting me up.”

Rombach said that one of the many reasons it is so hard to see his daughter in bed is that she was always so full of life.

“She was a very adventurous gal — sometimes enough to make us nervous,” he said.

After high school, she took a year off to spend time on ecosystem farms in Spain, Costa Rica and Brazil. Agriculture, especially organic and sustainable vegetable and fruit farming, was her passion.

“She saw this as an interesting possible career path,” Rombach said.

‘All things agriculture’

In 2013, she earned a degree in sustainable food and farming from UMass Amherst after only three years. Rombach said that when he and his wife would visit, her kitchen was full of greens she grew herself.

Chloe Rombach was a leader in two agricultural projects at UMass, the Student Farm Enterprise project and the Garden Share Club. Amanda Brown, a lecturer in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture and director of the UMass Student Farm, said Rombach spent a year working on the farm.

“She was involved in all things agriculture at UMass,” Brown said Monday. “She did a little bit of everything. She worked in the fields with us in all kinds of weather, and she was involved with the farmers market and the CSA pick-ups on campus.”

She said Rombach has a “huge heart,” a talent for farming and a contagious laugh. When they worked together several years ago, Brown said, Rombach was always upbeat and never complained.

“She was well-liked and respected by her peers right away,” Brown said. “She was just great to be around.”

Brown said everyone in Stockbridge and the farm was devastated to learn of the accident. Many have kept abreast of her progress through the CaringBridge website and through other classmates who are connected to her family. “We’ve kind of been supporting each other,” she said.

Rombach was also an actor and had “a hell of a set of pipes,” her father said. In middle school, she played Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz,” he said, and in high school, she played Maria in “West Side Story” and sang in an a capella group.

Her interest in natural healing methods drew her to another passion: yoga. After taking classes at the Karuna Center for Yoga & Healing Arts for six months to a year, she became an instructor in November.

Karuna director Eileen Muir called Rombach “the shining star” of the yoga teacher training program.

“She has an incredibly bright disposition. She was always enthusiastic and just shone her way through the training,” Muir said. “She was an integral part of our community — and still is.”

Staff and students at the center have been deeply affected by Chloe’s accident, Muir said. She keeps in touch with the Rombach family, she said, and she and another staff member send weekly updates to the Karuna community based on the information on her CaringBridge site.

“I send healing energy her way every day,” Muir said.

The family believes she was walking to the yoga center at 25 Main St. when she was stuck by the car.

Practical help

Jake Clough of Northampton said he became friends with Chloe after he got to know her last summer when they were both students at the Karuna Center. He said there is a “huge community” in the Northampton area that is pulling for Chloe and checking her CaringBridge site religiously for updates.

“She’s one of the strongest people I’ve met, so that’s what’s getting me through it,” he said. “I just trust in her and her strength.”

Clough, 24, a musician, said he and other friends are planning a fundraising concert to help the Rombach family with the staggering medical expenses, though a date has not been set.

“Raising money is the most practical thing we can do right now,” he said. “We’d all just like to be able to help.”

For his part, Rombach said his family is touched by the support — and they do need the money. “It’s only going to scratch the surface of what it will cost for long-term recovery,” he said. For instance, just her ambulance ride to Mass General for the exam Saturday cost $3,000 to $4,000, he said.

A friend initially started a fundraising effort on the GoFundMe website, but Rombach later took over and started a new campaign with a fundraising goal of $100,000 at http://www.gofundme.com/n1a53s. He said his daughter’s health care costs may one day reach several million dollars.

For now, Rombach said, he and his family will keep praying while they sit by Chloe’s bed, massaging her and looking for any sign of recovery. They hope one day — though it might be years from now — she will walk again and live an independent life.

At the same time, Rombach said, even as he and his wife care for their daughter now, they are concerned about who would continue to care for her when they no longer can.

“Most people go through seeing their parents die or get sick,” Rombach said. “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. It’s the hardest thing for a parent.”

For updates on Chloe Rombach’s condition, visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/chloerombach.

Continue reading Praying for an Indepdendent Life for Chloe Rombach

UMass Students Can Get Academic Help Here

 Student Resources at UMass


  1. The Learning Resource Center (LRC) is located on the 10th floor of DuBois Library, and offers FREE peer-supported academic tutoring and supplemental instruction for over 180 courses at UMass. Tutoring support at the LRC is available for individual or small group sessions on a walk-in basis.They also assist students with learning workshops to improve your note-taking, studying, time-management or problem-solving skills. Its important to be proactive about your academic goals, so if you think you might need some additional support, feel free to stop by the Learning Resource Center or visit their webpage for more information.
  2. The Writing Center can be found in the Learning Commons within the basement of DuBois Library. At the Writing Center, students can receive one-on-one support with all aspects of the writing process from beginning to end. The Writing Center tutors meet with writers in 45 minute face-to-face or online consultations. If you need help with anything from getting your ideas onto paper to revising your last draft, then check out their website to schedule an appointment with a Writing Center tutor.
  1. Also located in the basement of DuBois Library is the  Academic Advising Link, where Peer Advisors like me are ready for anything! These Peer Advisors from Undergraduate Advising can assist you with the course selection process, answer questions about academic requirements, promote major exploration, and much more. Swing by the Academic Advising Link in the library Sunday-Thursday from 4-8pm to have an awesome Peer Advisor assist you.
  1. Check out the Tutoring Centers available in the Lederle Graduate Research Tower if you need some assistance with various Math or Stats department courses. These centers are staffed by instructors, graduate TAs, and undergraduate peer TAs who are always happy to provide some assistance and math review. For the most up-to-date information regarding the time and room numbers for each tutoring session, please review the Tutoring Centers website.
  1. The DuBois Library offers an Ask a Librarian service to assist students with both understanding the borrowing or inter-library loan process, and locating the materials they need. They can also teach students how to utilize the library equipment, learn to use RefWorks, and more. Students can email, phone, IM, text, or visit the reference desk in the basement of the library within the Learning Commons in order to Ask these Librarians anything. Feel free to visit their website for more information.

Summer Pre-College for High School Students in Sustainable Farming and Food Systems

UMass Pre-college Summer Program

Sustainable Farming and Food Systems

July 26 – August 1, 2015

Apply Here

Are you interested in learning more about where your food comes from? Or how does your food get to your plate? And where does the waste go afterwards?
SSA Logo -- blue on white with UMASSf4apicJoin one of the leading university Sustainable Food and Farming programs in the nation for an immersion in sustainability and food systems. In this one-week course, students will gain hands-on experience in the local food system as well as comprehensive understanding of the U.S. Food System. This program will focus on three areas in our food system:

  1. sustainability and systems thinking,
  2. social justice, and
  3. agricultural leadership.

This week will include at least 2 field trips and hands-on experience at local farms.cropped-stuentfarmer.jpg
With a focus on sustainability, students will explore and analyze inequities present in our food system using systems thinking tools like concept mapping and iceberg models. Students will simultaneously participate in a UMass project growing organic food for local food relief organizations, such as Not Bread Alone soup kitchen and Amherst Survival Center, exploring both the food production and community engagement subsystems necessary to have a successful partnership addressing equity in our food system.

f4apic2Finally, students will have an opportunity to explore their personal relationships to food, and lead each other in activities to deepen understanding how to change personal actions to impact our food system. This practice is important for students interested in leading, managing, teaching, and articulating various perspectives in sustainability.

Program Fees

Contact the lead instructor, Sarah Berquist, for more information.

Apply Here

Free food safety course offered by UMass

TO:  UMass Sustainable Food and Farming students

Please get certified! nancyc

Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the UMass Department of Nutrition has launched the Food Safety from Farm and Garden to Preschool online training program. The department has partnered with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension to develop this free, online, interactive food safety program for early child care educators, foodservice staff, and parents.

The program is now available online at; www.umass.edu/safefoodfarm2kid

The program takes about 2-hours.  It is self-paced  and was created to help early childcare educators, foodservice staff, volunteers, and parents understand the importance of reducing the risk of food safety related to fresh fruits and vegetables in young children. The program includes five units:

  1. Farm to Preschool Benefits
  2. Fresh Produce and Foodborne Illness Risks
  3. Food Safety Basics for the Classroom and the Kitchen
  4. Food Safety and Gardening Activities
  5. Food Safety on Field Trips to Farms and Farmers’ Market.

Online discussion boards and printable resources such as Best Practices Planning Tools, resources, and Certificates of Completion are available and may be able to be used towards Professional Development requirements. The program is also offered as an in-person training workshop in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Nancy Cohen, Professor and Head of the Department of Nutrition and the Principal Investigator on the USDA grant, expects that through increased food safety knowledge and increased adoption of safe and healthy practices in Farm to Preschool (F2P) programs, that food safety risk will be reduced considerably for the hundreds of preschool children who participate in expanding F2P programs throughout New England.

“Over 400 participants from across the U.S. participated in the program in the first five weeks,” says Cohen. “Early indications show improved knowledge and planned behavior changes, not only in food safety practices, but in plans to increase gardens and fresh fruits and vegetables served. Research will continue to determine behavior changes as a result of the program.”

Original Post at: http://www.umass.edu/sphhs/news-events/nutrition-department-launches-farm-preschool-food-safety-program#sthash.g0O0TsHe.dpuf

2015 Local Cooperative Internships in Amherst


All Things Local Cooperative Market

104 North Pleasant St., Downtown, Amherst MA

Several unpaid internship opportunities are available for spring semester.  UMass and Five College students may earn one credit (pass/fail) for working 3-4 hours a week or 2 credits for 8 hours.  Among the opportunities are:

  1. Daily Customer Service – (minimum 4 hours per week) greet customers and help them find products, check out, and answer questions about the coop.
  2. Apprentice Assistant Manager – (minimum of 8 hour per week) work with the management team to learn tosupport volunteers, work with vendors, make decisions regarding products.
  3. Social Media Marketing – (minimum 3 hours per week) regular posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram highlighting products and local vendors.
  4. Graphic artist – (minimum 3 hours a week) develop infographic materials needed for marketing purposes; posters, stickers, and other promotional materials for the coop.
  5. Newsletter writers – (minimum 3 hours a week) interview producers and write a short article for the electronic newsletter.
  6. Cooking and Baking - (minimum 4 hours per week) learn to make value added products for sale in the market.
  7. Workshop Support – manage weekly Sustainability Sunday educational workshops (must be available from 1:30pm-4:30pm on Sunday afternoons).

For more contact John Gerber.  Credit must be arranged before January 30 for the spring semester.




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