As a new growing season approaches, the Dr. Keiko Miwa Ross Student Farm prepares for another year of supporting the campus food system. While the farm can produce over 16,000 pounds of produce each year, there is more to the four-acre farm than sustainable vegetable production.
The farm collaborates with several courses each year to exemplify real-life implementations of concepts. It also serves as a space for students to develop capstone projects. For example, one capstone course regularly corresponds with the farm as a client as students work to address current issues in plant science.
Liana Burghardt, instructor for the PLANT 461 (Emerging Issues in Plant Sciences) capstone course, said that her students' partnership with the farm is "mutually beneficial" because students get a chance to develop skills that are often missed in a traditional classroom setting while addressing the farm's needs.
"One of the real benefits of these group projects where they create content for a stakeholder is practicing being engaged in a partnership, getting incremental feedback, soliciting that feedback, and having that entity define and guide what they're doing," she said. "That is so different from most of the coursework that they have, but it is exactly like what happens in real-world work contexts."
At the beginning of the semester, Burghardt meets with staff at the Student Farm to discuss their needs and brainstorm how her students' skill sets can be utilized to address them.
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