FARMING REMOTELY?!

Amanda Brown, Stockbridge faculty & Director of the UMass Student Farm

In this time of global crises, many universities including UMass Amherst have transitioned to online learning. Making a transition like this is surely difficult for any discipline…but farming remotely?! How does that work? Sustainable Food & Farming also includes a depth of study of theory, plant science, and social dimensions of food systems which our instructors have been hard at work to continue teaching using online Zoom sessions, using forums on course pages like Moodle & Blackboard and designing a blend of live and pre-recorded lectures so that students can keep learning.

UMass Student Farmers working with faculty Amanda Brown to continue their farm planning efforts via Zoom!

Many students have shared that they look forward to our weekly Zoom sessions and we are continuing to learn and have fun together as best we can in these times. To be a farmer, one must be resilient and able to adapt to challenge and change (the weather is constantly surprising us!). What is also becoming more clear in this emerging pandemic is the need for SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE and healthy resilient systems.

Farmers across the globe are responding and organizing efforts to continue to expand and provide community access to local produce. Here in the Pioneer Valley, the newly formed Sunderland Farm Collaborative is providing a delivery service so Western MA residence can get local produce delivered to their homes safely and still support local businesses. Our local paper did a story on this collaborative which employs several alumni from our program. Neighboring Simple Gifts Farm has been offering an online ordering & curbside pickup for our local community. Current SFF students & alumni are working hard and with caution on the frontlines to make our food system more resilient during these times.

We are continuing to advise students remotely and designing our schedules for the fall semester. At a time where so much is uncertain, in many conversations we all seem to agree connecting with nature by going on daily walks, growing seedlings (from just a few in a windowsill or a large backyard garden) helps keep hope alive. Few things offer such simple wonder and awe and remind us that what we’re doing here is important and essential. Now more than ever we must learn to grow food, to organize, to collaborate, to be resilient and adapt. To do what farmers, Indigenous communities, and grassroots organizers have been doing for centuries. Wishing good health and happy spring to all!

Sarah Berquist’s Agricultural Leadership & Community Education meet and share laughs over Zoom

-Sarah Berquist, Program Coordinator, Lecturer, & Advisor

UMass Sustainable Food & Farming

 

4 thoughts on “FARMING REMOTELY?!”

  1. HI Sarah, Love this post of yours!! Thank you for writing it! I am totally missing our Capstone class (via in person) but am glad to have our weekly zoom to stay connected.

  2. My window seedlings are also keeping my hopes alive! I think this pandemic will serve the strengthen the sales of local farms. Delivery services are popping up and should be utilized by everyone!

  3. Hi, Sarah

    I loved reading this! I also believe that the time we are in now proves emphasizes the need for sustainable agriculture and resilient communities. I’m starting a garden in my home soon and I am so excited.

  4. Hi Sarah,

    Thank you for all of your encouragement and help with transitioning a very hands on curriculum to as best a format as we can manage in these tough times.

    Stay well!

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