The Center for Sustainable Agriculture has officially opened at Spartanburg Community College’s central campus off Fairforest Road.
With support from the Mary Black Foundation and the Dominion Foundation, the college’s horticulture department constructed the red barn-style building that serves as the centerpiece of a new certificate program focused on sustainable agriculture, agribusiness and food systems, according to a news release.
The first class was held this summer at the new barn and surrounding property that includes gardening beds, a silo and a rain barrel used to collect and store rain water runoff. The certificate program is designed for individuals already employed or interested in the production of agronomic crops in a sustainable environment, preparing them for jobs in the agribusiness and food systems industry, but has garnered students with a keen interest in urban farming and community food systems, the release said.
"This is intensive agriculture in a small-scale footprint. Students learn the ecological, biological, environmental and economic impact of growing food such as fruits and vegetables sustainably,” said Jason Bagwell, chairman of the horticulture department at Spartanburg Community College, in the release "The program is designed to strengthen our local environment, food system and economy by providing educated and skilled employees. It's a great way for someone to jump into this profession or learn more to compliment previous education or skills they may have already acquired. And, it's a flexible opportunity since students can begin any term and credits transfer into our horticulture associate degree as well."
The Center for Sustainable Agriculture houses the production and education center featuring classroom space, storage space and a washing and harvesting center where harvested crops are washed, weighed, packaged and prepared for volunteer pick-up and delivery to community partners like Hub City Farmers' Market, according to the release.
The program is producing approximately 1.5 acres of organically raised, seasonally grown fruits and vegetables, which includes four 4'x75' incubator beds for shared community use. To date, 900 have been served through the Spartanburg Urban Mission and its Northside and Cleveland Heights interns and neighbors.