North Central SARE From the Field Profile
Experiential Learning in Agricultural Systems
GVSU Upward Bound TRiO Flower and Herb Garden at the GVSU Sustainable Agriculture Project
Through the Grand Valley State University (GVSU) Sustainable Agriculture Project, Levi Gardner helps students learn about food production and gain an appreciation for the process of planning, growing, harvesting, and selling horticulture and floriculture products. The project is growing at a regional public university with a limited history of agriculture or food systems education.
With support from a SARE grant, high school students without previous exposure to farming, gardening, or environmental education were hosted at the university during a five-week summer program. Students were introduced to collegiate life and took a course on sustainable agriculture that was developed to expose them to integrative and experiential learning. Students cooked and shared a meal together from foods they helped grow. Gardner said many students had never seen a tomato plant or a recently harvested onion, or had tasted fresh garlic.
Sixteen students participated in 2011, while 22 participated in 2012. A freshman stated in his final project, “As a citizen I want to try and help people understand that sustainable agriculture is important because many people don’t know about what goes on behind the scene. They don’t know where their food really comes from so I want to help them understand.”
In the future, as the program grows, Gardner said the group will seek more publicity for their work. They also would like to visit a farm. He said they will continue to focus on how to integrate this work into the students’ academic and professional goals.
Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) YENC10-034, GVSU Upward Bound TRiO Flower and Herb Garden at the GVSU Sustainable Agriculture Project.
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Project products are developed as part of SARE grants. They are made available with support from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA). Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed within project products do not necessarily reflect the view of the SARE program or the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.