The UMass Student Farming Enterprise (SFE), a Stockbridge program, is a great example of how students are being prepared to succeed in life after college. Established as a year-long class in 2008, students participate in all aspects of what it takes to run a farm. The student farmers plan their crop production, weed, operate machinery, harvest, and clean; but they also learn how to develop a strong business model and sell their products.
This training in marketing and selling their products has resulted in a fruitful partnership with the local supermarket chain Big Y. They also sell their produce to the on-campus dining commons, Earthfoods Cafe, and to 60 CSA shareholders at the UMass Student Farmers Market in the Fall. If you live in or around Amherst, there are plenty of places where you can find their high-quality produce!
Speaking of high-quality, SFE grows certified organic produce on seven acres of land split between Amherst and South Deerfield. One of the missions of the program is to provide students with the knowledge they need to be stewards of the environment if they decide to run their own farms in the future. Agriculture can be a highly energy intensive process, so it is crucial to teach the next generation of farmers how to do so sustainably and in an ecologically sound way.
If you’re a fan of vegetables, you’ll love what they have to offer! In 2014, they grew “39 different crops, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, swiss chard, sweet corn, carrots, eggplant, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, onions, peppers, potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.” Sounds delicious to me!
Find out more about SFE on their website here.