At UMass you can begin to build a life and a livelihood while joining the rapidly growing sustainable food and farming movement
The university that had its beginning as “Mass Aggie” has become “the place to be” for students in the rapidly growing field of sustainable agriculture and food system studies. In a recent ranking of the “best global agricultural universities,” UMass was placed best Ag School in the U.S. and 4th best in the world! Long recognized for our cutting edge research, UMass is also the home to the fastest growing and largest undergraduate major in sustainable agriculture in the nation.
Enrollment in the Bachelor of Sciences major in Sustainable Food and Farming has soared since being approved as a major. Due to its steady growth from just five students in 2003 to fifty students in 2013, the Sustainable Food and Farming program was approved as a stand alone major within the newly reorganized Stockbridge School of Agriculture. In 2018 a fully online B.S. degree in Sustainable Food and Farming was added and enrollment in the major has increased steadily and now stands at 225 full time students (with about one-half online).
Part of the attraction of the new major is surely due to rapidly growing career opportunities in:
- local food production and marketing,
- food advocacy, policy and community development, and
- community-based and farm-based education, among others.
UMass Amherst has responded to this demand by adding many new classes (listed below). The major was also redesigned to be more flexible, allowing each student to custom design their plan of study for their own career interests.
At the same time that Sustainable Food and Farming was attracting more student attention, the College of Natural Sciences created the UMass Center for Agriculture and the Environment (which administers the agricultural research and extension functions of the college). Progress is also being made on a new Agricultural Learning Center, which offers hands-on education to students at a location within walking distance of the heart of campus. In fact, many new student projects find their home at the ALC.
Local food and farming is particularly important today as the world experiences the “perfect storm” of climate disruption, depletion of easily and safely extractable fossil fuel, and economic stress. Students have recognized this as an opportunity and are gravitating to the study of sustainable farming and marketing, working toward careers in local food and green businesses, urban agriculture, permaculture, herbal medicine, and related jobs in farm-based education, public policy, community development and advocacy. Recent graduates of the program have been successful in many fields of endeavor all over the world.
While our students and alumni travel the world, many graduates are finding good work close to home. Unlike the rest of the U.S., the number of farms are increasing in New England and demand for local food in Massachusetts is almost ten times higher than the national average.
This growth of the local food economy offers our students opportunities to gain practical experience while earning college credit toward graduation.
Student Gain Practical Experience
Building on the Levi Stockbridge’s commitment to experiential learning, students in the Sustainable Food and Farming major have initiated and are actively engaged in several exciting hands-on learning projects at UMass such as the Real Food Challenge.
Experiential learning and hands-on practice is central to our major. Here are just a few of the projects initiated by students that are available to earn academic credit in our major:
- UMass Student Farm
- UMass Permaculture Initiative
- UMass Hydro Farm
- For a complete list, see STUDENT PROJECTS
Students can also gain year round farming and marketing experience by participating in the UMass Student Farm, which was recently ranked the 5th best college farm in the U.S.
Here is a video from the UMass Student Farming Class.
Course Descriptions and requirements to complete the Bachelor of Sciences degree in Sustainable Food and Farming may be found at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture webpage.
In addition to a vibrant campus program, there are almost 500 students studying Sustainable Food and Farming online from all over the world. We offer a 15-credit Certificate Program that serves the needs of active learners who can’t come to campus. We are also accepting applications for our 60-credit Associate of Science fully online degree program in Sustainable Food and Farming as well as a fully online B.S. degree. Campus students also take online classes during the summer and winter terms. A full list of online course offerings may be found here:
Practical education built on a solid foundation of biological, ecological, and sociological sciences prepare students to explore creative options and good work in Sustainable Food and Farming.
Here are a few of our students talking about their major….
Its surely a good time to be an “Stockie.”
Anyone interested in discussing this major should contact Program Coordinator John Gerber.