LaGuardia Community College is going all in on its new urban farming and management curriculum and an evolving alliance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at the school’s Long Island City campus.
LaGuardia launched Project SEMBRAR, an experimental learning program with a three-week paid urban agriculture internship where students visited and volunteered at the old Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm in Long Island City, which was recently acquired by Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens in Astoria, the Queens County Farm and Museum and other urban farms in Brooklyn.
The students learned firsthand about different types of farming techniques such as aquaponics, hydroponics, rooftop farming, and land-based regenerative agriculture, and at Connected Chef in Hunters Point, they packed more than 150 boxes of food for the western Queens community and learned about food access, food justice and food sovereignty from the founders, according to Dr. Preethi Radhakrishnan, program director of LaGuardia’s Environmental Science Program.
“The discussions we had with the farmers at each location were rich and filled with conversations around what the future of farming looks like in urban landscapes through the lens of climate resiliency,” Dr. Radhakrishnan said. “Student reflections revealed that agentic and service-based learning are powerful ways to engage students with course content that is deeply meaningful. It was wonderful to see students engage in conversations with farmers and soil scientists about how soils are depleted by monocropping, about the differences in engineering that goes into rooftop agricultural spaces, and about how food, agriculture, and health care are intimately related.”
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