UMass, Hampshire and Holyoke Community colleges get $810,000 grant to combine clean-energy studies with sustainable agriculture



Last modified: Thursday, November 20, 2014

AMHERST — Agricultural students at the University of Massachusetts, Hampshire College and Holyoke Community College will benefit from an $810,000 National Science Foundation grant to create collaborative programs combining clean energy studies with sustainable agriculture.

“The main purpose of the grant is to marry what has for the most part historically been two separate sides of sustainability education — clean energy and agriculture,” Kate Maiolatesi, coordinator of the Holyoke Community College sustainability studies program, said in a statement.

John Gerber, professor of sustainable food and farming in the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture, said the grant will also purchase new clean energy and agriculture equipment for use at the micro-farm greenhouse demonstration and training facility at the Agricultural Learning Center on North Pleasant Street

“The facility will give our students an opportunity to practice and learn energy-efficient technologies while producing fresh, local vegetables for the campus community,” Gerber said.

Managed by Amanda Brown and UMass student farmers, vegetables grown there will be sold at the Student Farmers Market on Friday afternoons in the fall, while during the winter months leafy green vegetables will be grown for the dining commons.

The greenhouse will be used to train agricultural students from the three institutions during the summer months as an outdoor learning laboratory, Gerber said.

In addition, the grant is supporting cross-campus courses that will start next summer.

“Students from all three campuses will come to HCC to learn about clean energy and then our students and their students will go to UMass and Hampshire for the agriculture piece,” Maiolatesi said.

Other portions of the grant will be used at Hampshire to build a solar-powered moveable greenhouse and mobile refrigeration unit, at Holyoke Community College to install a small wind turbine and solar-powered electric fence, composting and irrigation equipment for sustainability and permaculture gardens, and to pay stipends for students completing summer internships with clean-energy businesses or local sustainable farms.




 


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