Posts Tagged ‘schools’


Food (and Farms) for Thought: Campus Farming and Environmental Sustainability

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By Jenna Banning

For many young Americans, the college application process is one of the biggest decisions of their lives, and full of many important considerations – the quality of the academic programs, the competitiveness of the sports teams, and the number of campus clubs. But today, students are increasingly adding one more factor to the list – the school’s environmental sustainability.

Image credit: Dickinson College

According to the 2011 Princeton Review, 69 percent of college applicants say that having information about a college’s commitment to environmental issues would contribute to their decision to apply to or attend the school.  This is up from 64 percent in 2008, and reflects a growing trend in higher education across the North American continent. As awareness of the importance of protecting our planet’s resources grows, many colleges and universities are seeking to establish or promote their school’s environmentally-friendly programs.

Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, recently hosted a two-day long conference devoted on building these programs, with a particular focus on the value of agriculture and food systems. Neil Leary, director of Dickinson’s Center for Sustainability Education, remarked how the conference’s focus on agriculture  is part of a growing societal movement: “Many of our students are deeply interested in food – what we grow and eat, how we grow it, and how we process, transport, distribute and market it. And they are interested for good reason. How societies answer these questions will determine whether we expand access to healthy, nutritious food to a growing world population, while also protecting the planet’s environmental resources and developing resilient, diverse economies and communities.”



What Works: Educating the Farmers of Tomorrow

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By Mara Schechter

Roughly 70 percent of Africans are under the age of 30. Unfortunately, young people in Africa are choosing not to be farmers. Farming is labor intensive and many small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa struggle to make a living. And often young people look down on farming or view it as a punishment, rather than something they choose to do. But across the continent, many innovative projects are working to reverse this trend by teaching younger generations how they can improve their livelihoods, preserve their culture, and repair damage to the environment through farming.


DISC is helping students at 31 schools grow local crops in school gardens. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

In Uganda, for example, Edward Mukiibi and Roger Sserunjogi began Developing Innovations in School Cultivation (DISC) to reignite a taste for traditional African vegetables among school children. Now, partly funded by Slow Food International and a participant in the 1,000 Gardens in Africa program, DISC is helping students at 31 schools grow local crops in school gardens.

At DISC schools, students also learn how to cook traditional foods with primarily indigenous crops, such as amaranth, African eggplant, and traditional varieties of maize. Students also learn how to dry seeds to store them for later seasons. Through the program, students’ eating habits and ideas about farming change as they come to appreciate indigenous vegetables and the sense of identity and security they gain from the practical skills they learn. And students bring this change of attitude back home and into their communities, starting community gardens and introducing their families to local foods and new farming techniques.

In Rwanda, the organization CARE International’s Farmers of the Future Initiative (FOFI) funded 27 pilot schools to start school gardens. After one year, the pilot schools used half of the profits from their gardens to reinvest in their agriculture programs, while putting the other half towards helping other  schools to start their own gardens. By the end of the three-year project, 28 satellite schools had started their own gardens. (more…)


Nourishing the Planet & Slow Food in Vancouver Sun

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Nourishing the Planet has had its first Canadian op-ed published in the Vancouver Sun! Co-authored by Slow Food International’s director of international development and Nourishing the Planet Advisory Group member Shayna Bailey and NtP’s co-project director Danielle Nierenberg, the article details how the value and popularity of eating local food is spreading to a global audience.

The op-ed describes the Developing Innovations in School Cultivation (DISC) project in Uganda and Mangeons Local in Senegal and their efforts to help school children learn about local agriculture and the culinary traditions of their countries. With support from organizations like Slow Food International, they are engaging the next generation of farmers.

For more about Nourishing the Planet’s work with Slow Food International and projects they support see: Reigniting an Interest in Local food, Meet the Nourishing the Planet Advisory Group: Shayna Bailey, How to Keep Kids ”Down on the Farm”, and Innovation of the Week: Agriculture Education in School.