The National Science Foundation has awarded an $810,000 grant to Holyoke Community College, in partnership with UMass Amherst and Hampshire College, to create collaborative programs combining clean energy studies with sustainable agriculture and share new resources that will benefit students at all three schools.
The grant supports a series of joint courses, the first of which will begin in the summer of 2015. Professors Peggi Clouston and Ben Weil of the Environental Conservation Department are working with John Gerber, professor of sustainable food and farming in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, to create course content relating to agricultural structures, energy efficiency, and on-farm renewable energy.
The grant will also fund new clean energy and agriculture equipment that will be used by students and researchers from all three schools, including a micro-farm greenhouse demonstration and training facility at the Agricultural Learning Center on North Pleasant Street. The micro-farm greenhouse demonstration and training facility will be managed by Amanda Brown and the UMass student farmers, who will use it to grow vegetables for sale at the Student Farmers Market on Friday afternoons in front of Goodell each fall. The student farmers will also grow leafy green vegetables for the dining commons during the winter months. The technological centerpiece will be an improved greenhouse, with passive solar features, and high efficiency heating system. The construction of the greenhouses and food storage facilities on the UMass and Hampshire college campuses will be overseen and designed by Ben Weil, Extension Assistant Professor of Building Energy in the Environmental Conservation Department. Professor Peggi Clouston will contribute as a consultant on structural design issues.