Liz Whitehurst dabbled in several careers before she ended up here, crating fistfuls of fresh-cut arugula in the early-November chill.
The hours were better at her nonprofit jobs. So were the benefits. But two years ago, the 32-year-old Whitehurst – who graduated from a liberal arts college and grew up in the Chicago suburbs – abandoned Washington, D.C., for this three-acre farm in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
She joined a growing movement of highly educated, ex-urban, first-time farmers who are capitalizing on booming consumer demand for local and sustainable foods and, experts say, could have a broad impact on the food system.
For only the second time in the last century, the number of farmers under 35 years old is increasing, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest Census of Agriculture.
CONWAY — Aging farmers own a collective $1.8 billion in farming infrastructure and land throughout Massachusetts, according to Land For Good, a nonprofit promoting New England agriculture.
That combined with rising property values — which have increased steadily since 2006 based on United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics — pose problems for first-generation farmers who don’t already own land or have access to investment capital. Nationally, farm real estate averaged $3,020 per acre in 2015, up about $1,000 over 2006.
Women make up nearly half of the global agricultural workforce but receive much less funding, land, input, and training than men.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has spotlighted the gender gap in agriculture as a key obstacle to sustainable development – here’s a great infographic with statistics around this issue.
We want to take these stats and turn them on their head. We’ve rallied women entrepreneurs in agriculture locally and regionally who have the capacity to inspire others to create a better food system.
We’re inviting the campus community and the public to join us to learn about the successes and challenges of their journeys.
There are three lectures in the series, with one taking place each month this fall (click the title for details):
As students return to universities around the world and I return to my role as a professor of Sustainable Food and Farming, I am thinking about how to maintain the freedom of thought and action that I experience during the summer months while returning to work within a hierarchical institution of power and control. Students often wonder the same thing…….
I ask each fall – how do we maintain our sense of freedom and hope when we are faced with the sometimes oppressive university hierarchy? In 2003, I addressed this question during a graduation ceremony speech in which I claimed the key was compassion for all and knowledge of the connectedness of all things. I adapted an essay by Joanna Macy for this speech which I renamed “the Shambhala worker” (with the author’s permission of course).
The following is a description of UMass Sustainable Food and Farming graduate Sam Bavelock’s experience working at the Amherst Farmers’ Market. Great story…..
Over the summer in 2016, I had the opportunity to volunteer for the Summer Farmers’ Market here in Amherst, MA! I had been helping out with the Winter Market and wanted to continue to help throughout the summer and fall seasons. I was eager to be outside, note the differences between the two markets, as well as engage with community members, farmers, homesteaders, artists, bakers, and more, in the discussion about food. Continue reading Volunteering for the Amherst Summer Farmers’ Market→
The Stockbridge School of Agriculture is seeking applications for a Student Forest Garden Manager to manage all aspects of the Forest Garden at the UMass Agricultural Learning Center (ALC) this season. The Forest Garden is a 2 year old 1/4 acre garden located at the ALC with the following goals and objectives.
A permaculture demonstration garden and an aesthetically-pleasing leisure place for the university and
A site for active and hands-on learning by students and community members where workshops and classes are held.
The Food Forest produces an abundance of food and medicinals for the community and to be donated to those in need.
The Food Forest is a place of opportunity where students, faculty, and other individuals make a connection to where food comes from and begins to understand a new type of agriculture which works with natural systems.
Pre-season, 3-5hrs/week (Late April): Assisting with irrigation planning and ram pump irrigation workshop. Working with other land managers either with the UMass Student Farm or Food For All garden to market or donate food from the food
Fall Season, 3-5 hrs/week (Sept-late Oct/early Nov) hosting UMass permaculture classes for workdays, harvest & deliver fall crops, prepare garden for winter
Compensation for is $12/hr.
Current UMass Sustainable Food & Farming student with at least 1 of the following completed courses permaculture course (Intro to Permaculture or Permaculture Design and Practice)
Experience with establishing and caring for perennial food systems either with UMass Permaculture Initiative or other small farm or landscaping experience
Excellent leadership and communication skills
Ability to work independently in the field
Commit to 15 hours/week
PDC Certificate holder
Prior coordinating or leadership position with UMass Permaculture Initiative or equivalent.
To Apply: Send Lisa DePiano a copy of your resume with 2 professional or academic references and a paragraph describing your interest & qualifications at: firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday March 31 st 2017.
We want to congratulate one of our recent Stockbridge alums, Chip Pinder, who is the new farm manager at Vets and Veggies in Athol, MA. Chip completed the Bachelor of Sciences degree program in Sustainable Food and Farming in the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture just last month.
We hope you will help support this new community building and training operation for Veterans at their GoFundMe link.
Vets and Veggies offers housing to veterans that are interested in learning how to become a sustainable farmer. Through a small scale sustainable farming operation veterans will be guided through the process of planning crops, planting, integrated pest management, and proper harvesting techniques. Veterans will work together and create a local food systems for the residents in the community.
Here are a few resources that may be of use to Veterans interested in farming: