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New farming major at local college

POULTNEY - Green Mountain College today announced the creation of a new Sustainable Agriculture & Food Production major which will be offered beginning in the fall 2010 semester. The major has been developed out of a highly successful sustainable agriculture concentration in the college's environmental studies program.

"Over the past decade, we've developed a strong national reputation for education in sustainable agriculture, and we've integrated that knowledge into our environmental liberal arts curriculum," said GMC Provost Dr. William Throop.

The new Sustainable Agriculture & Food Production major will be based at Cerridwen Farm, the College's 22-acre working farm, with office and classroom space at the adjacent Solar Harvest Center. Students will learn about agriculture and food systems presented through the lenses of history, anthropology, the natural sciences, philosophy, business, economics, and art.

"Our 22-acre farm has become an agricultural lab of sorts, and our students contribute to the research," said Philip Ackerman-Leist, director of the College's Farm & Food Project and associate professor of environmental studies. "Like traditional ag programs students will learn a lot about agricultural practices and systems. They'll also learn how to be part of the current food revolution that is transforming farming and how we view food."

In 2008 Green Mountain College's Farm and Food Project received a $110,000 grant from The Jensen/Hinman Family Fund. This funding supports research aimed at running the college's Cerridwen Farm with as few fossil-derived resources as possible.

"We are teaching students appropriate technologies and agricultural systems that enable them to run farms that are productive and environmentally sustainable," said farm manager and faculty member Dr. Kenneth Mulder.

Green Mountain College also received a $15,000 grant from Vermont's Windham Foundation last year to fund a three-year study may reveal inexpensive ways to produce higher vegetable yields while consuming less energy. GMC researchers will experiment with thermal root-zone heating, a process that warms the soil at the roots of plants through a system of underground hot water radiant tubing. Heat will be generated from solar thermal collectors.

Last summer the College introduced Farm Life Ecology: A Field & Table Intensive, a 13 week-long, 12 credit summer program allowing students to manage all elements of the farm's operation while gaining a strong curricular foundation in sustainable agriculture. GMC's Farm & Food program also helped create Rutland Area Farm & Food Link , an organization that connects agriculture with food suppliers and consumers in the area.

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