Ever wondered what Sustainable Food and Farming alumni are up to? What job advice they have for current students? In the spring of 2021, SFF student and peer advisor Isadora Harper interviewed a handful of alumni to find out, and turned those interviews into two videos to share with all of you.
As an about-to-graduate SFF student, she wanted to know about their experiences in their current jobs, with job searching, and, perhaps most importantly, what paths they have taken since graduating. Their responses highlight the huge array of possibilities within this field, and represent some different pathways across the SFF focus areas: sustainable production, permaculture, food justice and policy, and agriculture education. Whether you’re a past, present, or future student, we hope you enjoy these conversations!
The deeper into gardening you get, the more you see that you are really growing soil — which is a crucial carbon reservoir.
By Leah C. Stokes – December 27, 2020
Between the coronavirus and the election, 2020 blurred together in a haze of stress. But for the huge number of people who took up gardening this year, the seasons did not just slip by: They were measured in inches of plant growth.
In the spring, some seed companies saw sales spike up to 10 times normal. The 144-year-old company Burpee had a record year. Like weeds growing up through cracks in pavement, this trend was a reminder of all the ways life continues.
YES! You did it! We did it! Likely not the ending any of us were imagining, AND I our you all embracing it with resilience and grace.
Graduating is a threshold. It is a time when you leave one reality and identity (student) and new terrain and new opportunities await you. It can be overwhelming, anticlimactic, emotional, numbing, exciting, relieving and perhaps a combination of all of those things. It isn’t the same but one thing I can liken it to is a birthday, when someone asks “how do you feel?” and I really I feel the same. Yet there is a change in identity in aging from 21 to 22 or from 30 to 31 or from 66 to 67. Graduating seniors, you may not actually feel very different when you wake up tomorrow even though today you just GRADUATED! A big deal!
Maybe you will feel drastically different and/or maybe you will feel a slow trickle of change. However you feel, is exactly how you’re supposed to feel! In reflecting with some students I heard folks saying it felt anticlimactic to graduate. Especially now, seniors can’t get up on stage and be seen, acknowledged and celebrated by family and friends in the way their peers of 2019 did. While I’m amazed, impressed, and grateful for all the ways UMass is striving to celebrate undergraduates despite the circumstances, virtual celebrations are not the same. Yet, rituals of any kind can be an important way to mark a threshold crossing. So in tandem with engaging in these virtual events however you may be, I invite and encourage you to do something for YOU. Plant something, eat something, call someone, walk somewhere, have a fire, whatever that looks like for you, I hope that you are taking a pause to celebrate all you have done. Your instructors and advisors in SFF are SO proud of you!
CNS Virtual Celebration can be found here and Stockbridge BS Sustainable Food & Farm celebration can be found here. On those pages you will find videos (including a video from your SFF student ambassador Rhianna Zadravec!) and some really great photos of you! I hope you take some time to look at them and share with your families & friends. There also is a special video I made for your families here.
Adrienne Maree Brown’s principles of Emergent Strategy continue to anchor me in this turbulence. Sometimes I want an answer now, when is this going to end? When can I hug my friends and family again? And at this time, the principles that anchor me the most are: “Change is constant (be like water)” and “What you pay attention to grows.” It feels important to grieve all of the loss due to COVID-19. AND I believe in the transformative power of paying attention to delight and gratitude. I trust the resilience of each of you and know you will continue to do great work in this world. THANK YOU for all your hard work, for learning so passionately and teaching me. I see you and celebrate you as you cross this threshold to become a graduated human being! Best wishes in your next steps. May you & your loved ones be healthy and happy. Please stay in touch!
UMass Instructor and Program Coordinator of the Sustainable Food and Farming B.S. degree program in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, Sarah Berquist, was chosen as the 2019 recipient of the Massachusetts Distinguished Service Award by Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest, largest, and most selective all-discipline honor society. According to society President, Professor Theresa Y. Austin, the UMass Chapter recognized Ms. Berquist for her outstanding service to the University in ways that are consistent with the Society’s motto of “Let the love of learning rule.”
With a focus on farm-based education and social equity in the food system, Berquist connects her passion for teaching with community engagement through hands-on projects that are actively working toward a more just and sustainable food system. In collaboration with the UMass Student Farm, she co-founded and manages the Food for All Program that donated 10,000 pounds of recovered “excess” and “seconds” produce in 2018 to the local relief organizations Not Bread Alone and Amherst Survival Center. She Continue reading Sarah Berquist receives major award→
The following list of topics and articles was published as a public service by Grow Calgary, the largest urban community farm in Canada. Jenny’s Food and Ag Update is published once a month by Jenny Huston of Farm to Table Food Services in Oakland, CA. To be added to the mailing list, contact Jenny at firstname.lastname@example.org.
November Update on Food and Ag
How activists forced FDA to blacklist “carcinogenic” flavor chemicals the agency says are safe (The New Food Economy) https://bit.ly/2J9s0NS
‘’It’s not fair, not right’: how America treats its black farmers (The Guardian) https://bit.ly/2P5ZmU2Sugarcane farmers can’t survive without large crop loans. For the Provosts, who say they suffered decades of discrimination, this could be the end of the line
Why are food power and justice important for our communities’ health and environment?
How do we frame racial equity in our food policies?
This course examines the role of policy in determining WHAT we eat, WHO experiences barriers to access to safe, healthy, local, fairly produced foods, and HOW we create equity and sustainability in our local food system. Learn about key local, regional and federal policies framing the food system and public health. Engage with experts who are changing food equity.
We are just one week out from the 2018 PVGrows Forum and we are nearing capacity! Register today to secure yourself a seat on April 7th as we dig deep on the urgent and timely topics facing the Pioneer Valley food system. Join us to broaden and deepen your relationships with others in the field while identifying paths to take collaborative action for a more just, equitable food system!
Catered lunch, Gateway City Arts – Spanish interpretation services available
Keynote from Migrant Justice
Migrant Justice organizes immigrant farmworkers and allies in the state of Vermont for human rights and economic justice. Founded in 2009 after the death of a young dairy worker, the organization brings the farmworker community together with community assemblies to create a vision and roadmap for advancing human rights through collective action. In the decade since its founding, Migrant Justice has received national accolades for its cutting edge grassroots organizing, winning access to driver’s licenses for immigrant workers and the country’s strongest statewide policy preventing police collaboration with deportation agencies. In 2017, Migrant Justice signed a contract with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to implement the organization’s worker-driven social responsibility program “Milk with Dignity” in the company’s supply chain. This program is now transforming conditions and securing human rights on farms across the state.
Sessions for the Day
Land Access in the Pioneer Valley
Both rural and urban agriculture face challenges related to land access in the Pioneer Valley and beyond. Our region’s long history of enslavement, racial discrimination, and anti-immigrant biases has forged the patterns of land and wealth distribution that exist today. Join us to explore this history, the challenges that exist in the field of land access today, and opportunities for taking action moving forward.
Immigration and the Food System
Now is a time of heightened stress and fear for foreign-born residents of the Pioneer Valley and beyond. Foreign-born residents play a substantial role in the food system of our region and now, more than ever, it is essential to support the food system workers of the Pioneer Valley. Join us as we examine the current lay of the land for immigrants working in the food system and explore approaches to taking action moving forward.
Building Political Muscle for Food Resilience
What’s the Farm Bill? Why does it matter? Build your toolbox, and take away actions your communities can do at the State and Federal levels to preserve the programs that ensure healthy food is accessible to all.
The Trump Administration’s 2019 Budget proposed cutting SNAP’s budget by over $200 billion in the coming decade while radically restructuring the entire program. This session will feature updates on the current status of this and other essential programs like Farm to School and FINI, the federal grant program that funded HIP, while offering an opportunity for developing strategies across our communities for protecting current funding levels and new ways of moving forward.
PVGrows Forums bring together food system stakeholders and participants to spend a day deeply exploring the Pioneer Valley food system. Our events are open to all. The 2018 PVGrows Forum is made possible by a volunteer planning committee, our sponsors, and CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture.)