The UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture, in partnership with Holyoke Community College and Hampshire College, has been awarded an $810,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to create collaborative programs combining sustainable agriculture with clean energy studies and share resources that will benefit students at all three schools.
“The main purpose of the grant is to marry what has for the most part historically been two separate sides of sustainability education – clean energy and agriculture,” said Kate Maiolatesi, coordinator of HCC’s Sustainability Studies program.
Much of the grant will allow the development of cross-campus courses that combine the strengths of existing programs at each of the three schools. The first of these joint courses is expected to begin in the summer of 2015.
Students from all three campuses will go to HCC to learn about clean energy and then go to UMass and Hampshire to study sustainable agriculture practices. The joint program is expected to create stronger pathways for students to transfer from HCC to Hampshire and UMass.
Another large portion of the grant will pay for new clean energy and sustainable agriculture equipment that will be used by students from all three schools. This will include a new micro-farm greenhouse demonstration and training facility at UMass and a mobile, solar powered refrigeration unit. HCC will install a new solar powered electric fence, along with composting and irrigation equipment as well as a wind turbine for its sustainability and permaculture gardens.
The grant will also pay stipends to students who want to do summer internships with clean energy businesses or local farms.