Most people take for granted where their next meal is coming from, and as the world starts to consider this more, sustainable agriculture majors at Unity College will have the opportunity to change the world around them. In the 21st century, environmentally friendly farming methods that preserve ecological balance by working to avoid the depletion of natural resources is paramount. Learning how to farm sustainably is key to assuring that the world has the food and fibers it needs to survive for centuries to come.
Sustainable agriculture majors in this environment are counted on more and more for their knowledge and expertise. Learning these valuable skills is becoming necessary. The world must be able to meet the hunger needs of today’s population without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.
Studying at Unity College, in the heart of Waldo County, sustainable agriculture students have a plethora of resources available to them that few others have including: McKay Farm and Resource Station, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), Maine Farmland Trust, and Veggies for All are just some examples.
McKay Farm and Research Station is a multi-faced greenhouse operation owned and operated by Unity College. The facility serves as a direct extension of Unity College’s 225-acre campus, providing students with educational, research, and entrepreneurial opportunities. Students have classes at McKay, and even plant, tend, and harvest produce that is served hours later in Wyman Dining Commons on campus. How cool is it that students on campus eat food that they and their classmates have grown? Unity College literally has a full Farm-to-table experience. Students don’t just learn about farm and food production. They do it.
The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association is the largest organic organization in the nation! MOFGA is the state’s certification agency for organic farms, and is also active in farmer education. Our students take advantage of year round events including trainings, films, and speakers at MOFGA. In addition, several of the staff members at MOFGA have taught courses at Unity College and served as advisors — which give students easy access to the organization. Each year, MOFGA’s Common Ground Fair attracts 60,000 people to Unity in late September. This fair is a tradition for students, alumni, faculty, and staff alike.
The Maine Farmland Trust is a statewide organization which has an office in Unity, with its main office located in nearby Belfast. The program has four areas: farmland protection, farmland access, farm viability, and public outreach. As of this January, Maine Farmland Trust has protected 53,871 acres of farmland for future food production in Maine. Many of our students are able to become involved with this amazing organization, garnering real world experience prior to graduation.
Local food bank farm Veggies for All works under the Maine Farmland Trust masthead and is a popular internship choice and volunteer opportunity for Unity College students. The farm works to relieve local hunger by growing vegetables for those in need, increasing access to nutritious, quality food. Veggies for All was started in 2007 by young farmers who recognized the great potential for local agriculture to relieve hunger, and currently cultivates 2.5 acres of sustainably-managed vegetables. Their plots of land are located on the Unity College campus and in the surrounding community.
Few college student, regardless of their major, are afforded the opportunities outside the classroom that Unity College students are. Students at America’s Environmental College don’t just learn: they do. They graduate with hands-on experience prior to entering the workforce, learning exactly what it’s like to grow vegetables in healthy soils, manage water consumption, minimize pollution and promote biodiversity.