Vamos a Cuba!

You are invited to join us on an exciting new winter session food systems course offered by UMass in Cuba!

cubaFood Systems in Cuba

Production, Logistics and Marketing

…will be offered from January 2 – 18, 2016.

Learning Objectives:
• Learn about food production and marketing in Cuba.
• Learn how to assess the viability of a production and marketing system in any setting.
• Demonstrate cultural understanding through direct interaction with people involved in agriculture.

Other Program Inclusions:
• Visa and charter flight support and coordination
• Pre-departure support and materials from Spanish Studies Abroad
• Opportunity to improve Spanish proficiency during homestay with full board

For more details and information on how to apply – contact:

Dr. Frank Mangan
Phone: 413-545-1178

Stacy Lutsch
Phone: 413-545-1208

See the syllabus below:

SYLLABUS – Food_Systems_Cuba

cuba2This class satisfies core “Agricultural Science and Practice” requirements in the UMass Sustaianble Food and Farming B.S. degree program.

Young Family Farmers a Growing Trend

By JAMES HEFLIN – Daily Hampshire Gazette

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

familyfarmMany parents can’t get their kids to eat their vegetables. Mountain View Farm owners Liz Adler and Ben Perrault, on the other hand, have to retrieve their daughter, Ollie Perrault, 8, and son, Nate Perrault, 5, from their fields in Easthampton where the kids can often be found, muddy feet and all, munching away at lettuce, peppers or ground cherries they’ve just plucked.

familyfarm2“They don’t want me to do anything to it,” Adler said. “They want just a pepper or a tomato, just like it is. Sometimes I come outside and say, ‘Get over here! We’re going to eat lunch,’ and I have to remind myself that they’re standing there with raw kale — they’re actually eating lunch already.”

Adler, 36, and Perrault, 35, have been together and involved with farming for about 17 years. They met in eastern Massachusetts and lived in several places as Adler pursued her Continue reading Young Family Farmers a Growing Trend

Get Involved

getInvolved.83113726_stdStudents in the Sustainable Food and Farming major in the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture have the opportunity to “learn by doing” – one of Levi Stockbridge’s favorite sayings.

Toward that end…. here are a few opportunities to GET INVOLVED!

Local Hero Intern with CISA

cisaThe Local Hero internship is a great way to learn about CISA’s work and what it takes to run a Buy Local campaign.  CISA works with over 200 farmers and an additional 100 plus businesses who participate in our Local Hero program. This spring we will be in the middle of our annual membership drive and providing technical assistance workshops, resources and one-on-one support to farms and businesses.  We are looking for someone who is organized and interested in these topics to:

1) Perform outreach/support to Local Hero restaurant members;
2) Assist in data entry and analyzing surveys from wholesale growers, technical assistance workshops, and our year-end evaluation;
3) Research for specific topics of technical assistance needs;
4) Calls and outreach to Local Hero members; and
5) Tabling and outreach for CISA and the Local Hero program.

– See:

UMass Permaculture Garden Volunteers

Volunteering in the permaculture gardens is a great way to meet awesome people and get the chance to gain hands-on permaculture gardening experience. We are eager to teach if you are eager to learn! Come see our 1/4 acre garden, home to over 150 different species of plants!  Earn credit by committing to work either Monday and Friday or Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30am – 11:00 am (3 hours total per week).  Apply TODAY by sending an email to

Small Ones Farm – Amherst, MA

smaloneOur internship programs offer a variety of hands-on work and training experiences on our working farm.  Interns have the opportunity to assist with core farming tasks under the supervision of experienced farm staff.  We seek mature college students who have a genuine interest in sustainable farming, are willing to tackle a range of farm tasks, are able to work both independently and on a team, are able to handle physically challenging outdoor work in all kinds of weather, and are reliable (i.e., arrive on time, maintain a consistent schedule, etc.).   For more information, see:

Abundance Farm – Northampton, MA

Abundance Farm is currently accepting applications for three different internships (one to focus on vegetable production (sept-oct and march-may), one on our fruit orchard (sept-nov, march-may) and a third to focus on media and marketing (march-may).  Click on these links to find out more about each internship.

All interested students should reach out to our Farm Manager, Tory Field at

Fungi Ally Apprenticeships

Fungi Ally is a mushroom cultivation and education business based out of Hadley MA. We currently grow about 150 pounds of shiitake and oyster mushrooms and are moving into a new warehouse space. This fall we will be building new grow rooms, lab space, and continuing to provide mushrooms to local farmers markets, co-ops and grocery stores.

We are looking to hire two apprentices for the fall of 2015.

  • The apprenticeship will run from September 2015-January 2016
  • Between 20-40 hours per week. A weekly stipend depending on the hours agreed upon.
  • Involved in all aspects of running a small mushroom farm

Contact Willie Crosby at;

Volunteer at All Things Local – Downtown Amherst

atlAll Things Local is a cooperative market which provides opportunities for local farmers and crafters to sell their products for a fair price.  Volunteers are needed to help with promotion, education, and managing the store.  Please fill out this survey so we can meet the cooperative’s needs while making the best use of your time and skills! We need your help to make this cooperative successful, and we sincerely appreciate your contribution! Thank you in advance.

If you have questions regarding volunteering, please contact Allison at


For more information on internship and apprentice opportunities, see:

Finding Good Work in Sustainable Food and Farming

And to get credit for these opportunities, contact John Gerber before September 18, 2015 for fall semester!

UMass Keeps Bees!

BEE4_INTERIOR-1540x1026Meandering the Renaissance Center’s Great Meadow on a sunlit summer afternoon, you might spy three squat maroon and white structures near the central copse of trees. As you draw closer, you notice the air traffic and soft drone of golden, fuzzy honeybees on their foraging missions.

These structures are the new hives of the UMass Bee Club, currently 100 students strong and growing. Many members, such as incoming president Alexandra Graham, joined because of their concern over threats to the bee population, and the future diversity of our food supply.

“I first became interested in bees a few years back when I learned about colony collapse disorder and started Googling,” relates Graham. “Turns out bees are the coolest ever, and I immediately fell in love. So as soon as I found out about UMass beekeeping I jumped right in.”

IMG_3168The Great Meadow backs up to the Agricultural Learning Center, a demonstration facility that allows students to get hands-on experience with bees.  (Click here for a story on the Stockbridge Pollinator Garden).

Massachusetts Agricultural College was the first college to offer a formal beekeeping program. When Butterfield was still a field, and Orchard Hill an orchard, the eastern edge of campus buzzed with fifty working hives and a dedicated Apiary Laboratory.

But after the last beekeeping professor retired in the late 1960s, the program went dormant. The tradition was revived when founder Eamon McCarthy-Earls ’15, a backyard beekeeping enthusiast, arrived on campus. He founded the club in 2012, at first working with entomology research hives.

Beekeeping is a practice passed down through generations. As many lifelong apiarists are aging, in order to ensure the survival and diversity of healthy populations of bees, “to have youth interested in beekeeping right now is really important,” remarks Jarrod Fowler ’14G, pollinator expert at the Agricultural Learning Center.

The club’s goals are to establish a sustainable productive apiary on campus, create a resilient modern beekeeping program, and optimize the already pollinator-friendly Great Meadow as a pristine meadowland with even greater forage for bees.

But for the short term, says Graham, “we’re just caring for the hives and inspiring more people to learn about bees. We’re excited to be able to offer hands-on experience to our members.” She adds, “eventually there will be honey, and honey means extracting and filtering and bottling and all sorts of other fun things.”

Both on campus and culturally, says Earls, “we’re revitalizing a cultural heritage.”


NOTE:  To join the club, “like” them on Facebook or contact them at; The Stockbridge School of Agriculture plans on offering a new course called Practical Beekeeping in the spring of 2016.  Watch for STOCKSCH 166.

High school students explore the world of farming, food at UMass

By Diane Lederman | 
The Republican – August 04, 2015
AMHERST – In recent years, the University of Massachusetts has offered a number of summer programs, but until this year a program in sustainable agriculture was missing.

Ten students from around the country came to campus to the one-week program the last week of July. Their only regret was it wasn’t two weeks long.

UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture instructor Sarah Berquist taught the program on sustainability and food systems.

She said the summer is perfect for a program like this because “harvest is abundant.” And she said the program “is a great opportunity to spread the word about our great program.”

Students learned how the food system in the country operates. They worked with on the UMass student farm in South Deerfield and got the chance to talk to the student farmers.

They worked in the Food for All Garden at UMass, a garden that provides organic produce to places such as the Amherst Survival Center and Not Bread Alone soup kitchen.

On the last day, they were learning about permaculture with a tour of the five-year-old Franklin Dining Commons garden.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Stone came from New York City already aware about poverty and the struggles for food seeing the myriad homeless in the streets.

She is interested in “revitalizing poor communities through urban farms.”

She was learning more about the farm bill and farm systems and the agricultural industry.

UMass permaculture garden manager at UMass talks to students taking part in a one-week campus program.

“I hadn’t studied permaculture.

“I want to bring those techniques back,” she said.

Brett Koslowsky, 17, from Cambridge was also enjoying the “overview, the states of a different areas.”

She too is interested in agriculture and is a member of the Belmont High School’s Garden and Food Justice Club. She attends that school.

Both said they might be interested in coming to the UMass sustainable agricultural program now that they know about.

Jenna Carellini, 18, of Fishkill New York, wants to study nutrition and took a nutrition program last year but that was in the lab.

She wanted “a hands on approach” and was enjoying that with the week.

Berquist said they capped the program at 10 and had a few more applicants than spaces. She said they’d like to bring it back next summer and perhaps extend it and open it up to more people.

“Their passion for the topic is incredible,” she said of her students. She was impressed “to see people (their age) with that much interest and knowledge.”

She said they want to be “ambassadors for change.”

Original Post

Visit the UMass Pollinator Garden

You are invited to stop by the UMass Pollinator Garden at the Agricultural Learning Center to see several beautiful plantings that provide habitat and feed for both native and honey bees.  11750779_10102933155145462_1765256323_oThe garden was sponsored by the Massachusetts State Grange and is manged by Professor Stephen Herbert, a faculty member in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.  Among the many types of plantings on display, I think the butterfly and hummingbird hedgerow is my favorite.


The red flower is Bee Balm, also known as “patriots tea” because it was used as a tea-substitute after the American Colonists dumped British tea in Boston Harbor!

Bees and other pollinators will also be attracted to productive fruit plantings.

11760627_10102933154935882_696450353_o11747510_10102933153748262_892624253_o11721023_10102933152725312_77192501_oIf you have the space, the butterfly and hummingbird seed mix makes a nice looking pasture of wildflowers.

Below is short video of Professor Herbert, welcoming you to the garden!

The garden is located behind the Wysocki House at 911 North Pleasant St. in North Amherst, MA.  You may park in the Wysocki parking lot and walk back toward the field.  Be sure and say hello and ask questions from the students and faculty who are often working on the site!


Science needs to be more holistic – and less detached!

World’s challenges demand science changes — and fast, experts say

The world has little use — and precious little time — for detached experts.

Systems integration means taking a holistic look at all interactions between human and natural systems across the world. Credit: Michigan State University
Systems integration means taking a holistic look at all interactions between human and natural systems across the world.   Credit: Michigan State University

A group of scientists — each of them experts — makes a compelling case in this week’s Science Magazine that the growing global challenges has rendered sharply segregated expertise obsolete.

Disciplinary approaches to crises like air pollution, biodiversity loss, climate change, food insecurity, and energy and water shortages, are not only ineffective, but also making many of these crises worse because of counterproductive interactions and unintended consequences, said Jianguo “Jack” Liu, lead author of the paper “Systems Integration for Global Sustainability.” He also is Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability and director of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS) at Michigan State University (MSU).

“The real world is integrated,” Liu said. “Artificially breaking down the real world into separate pieces has caused many global problems. Solving these problems requires systems integration — holistic approaches to integrate various pieces of the real world at different organizational levels, across space and over time.”

Sustainability demands new methods

The paper’s authors, themselves with experience spanning agriculture, biodiversity, climate change, ecology, economics, energy, environment, food security, trade, water, and more, in essence paint a new paradigm of research that crosses boundaries among natural and social science disciplines, as well as other disciplines such as engineering and medical sciences.

Using examples that are both far-flung and tightly intertwined, these scientists show how systems integration can tackle the complex world, from unexpected impacts of biofuels to hidden roles of virtual resources such as virtual water.

The paper’s first illustration wraps Brazil, China, the Caribbean and Saharan Africa into an example of how the world demands to be approached not just for its singular qualities, but for its lack of boundaries over time, distance or the organizational levels humankind imposes.

The rapidly growing food export to China from Brazil destroys tropical forests and changes food markets in other parts of the world, including the Caribbean and Africa. Agricultural practices in the Sahara Desert in Africa stir up dust which enters the atmosphere and floats as far as the Caribbean. That African dust has been shown to contribute to coral reef decline and increased asthma rates in the Caribbean. It also affects China and Brazil that have made heavy investment in Caribbean tourism, infrastructure, and transportation. All these interactions, and the many more that exist in one example, defy borders both on maps and in academic disciplines.

Yet conventional research and decision-making often have taken place within separate disciplines or sectors. The paper notes that one of the systems integration frameworks — human-nature nexuses — “help anticipate otherwise unforeseen consequences, evaluate tradeoffs, produce co-benefits and allow the different and often competing interests to seek a common ground.” For example, the energy-food nexus considers both the effects of energy on food production, processing, transporting, and consumption, and the effects of food production, like corn, on the generation of energy, such as ethanol.

Other systems integration frameworks also bring multiple aspects of human-nature interactions together. Natural systems provide benefits like clean water and food to people, but human activities often inflict harm on natural systems. Considering a variety of benefits and costs simultaneously can help evaluate trade-offs and synergies among them. The environmental footprints framework helps quantify resources consumed and wastes generated by people.

Telecoupling — a way to make sense of a complex world

Many studies on sustainability have focused on one place, but the world is increasingly “telecoupled” — a term which embraces socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distances, sometimes several thousand miles away. For example, the large amount of coal from Australia sold to far-away markets like Japan, the European Union and Brazil affects not only those markets, but has global impacts far beyond. The money and environmental impacts such as CO2 emissions that flow with the coal, along with the mechanisms of transporting and burning the fossil fuel, spill over to countries between the partners.

Acknowledging that everything must be integrated is critical for scientific advances and effective policies, the authors say. So is the engagement between researchers and stakeholders. For example, Liu has partnered with environmental and social scientists to show how policies in China to curb human’s role in deforestation and panda habitat degradation were strengthened by enlisting nature reserve residents to receive subsidies to monitor the forests. The innovations were spurred by careful observation of the push-and-pull dynamics of managing a system to allow both people and the environment to thrive.

The paper says that effective policies and management for global sustainability needs the human and the natural systems to be more integrated across multiple spatial and temporal and awauthors think it is essential to quantify human-nature feedbacks and spillover systems. Science has largely ignored these, but they can have profound impacts on sustainability and human well-being.

It is time to integrate all disciplines for fundamental discoveries and synergetic solutions because of increasingly connected world challenges, Liu said.

“Furthermore, the world no longer has the luxury of the past, when there were fewer people on the planet and resources were more abundant,” Liu said. This will require funding agencies and universities to make more drastic changes to alter the reward mechanisms and transform the scientific community from isolated experts to integrated scholars.”

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University.

Michigan State University. “World’s challenges demand science changes — and fast, experts say.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2015. <>.

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