App State students practice agroecology

Students in the sustainable development program at Appalachian State University help complete the food chain cycle.

They grow organic produce at the program’s Goodnight Family Sustainable Development Program Teaching and Research Farm that is nurtured by compost created at the university from food scraps collected from campus dining halls.

The results of their labor are sold at the High Country Farmers Market and to families who are part of the High Country Community Supported Agriculture cooperative. When those markets end for the season, late fall to early winter produce is sold to students, faculty and staff on campus.

“The students learn about business and farmer-consumer contact, what customers like and how to market to customers,” said Brooke Kornegay, farm manager.  “They learn how to successfully sell what they have put so much energy into growing and it’s a way for us to interact with the community.”

Students in the sustainable development program’s agroecology and sustainable agriculture concentration learn about soil management, farm business management and marketing, and ecologically based pest management. They also can take courses in livestock production and management, environmental and resource economics, agroforestry, and agrarian studies and rural development.

During the summer months, students in the program grow and sell typical garden vegetables including tomatoes, squash, potatoes, garlic, salad greens, onions and carrots.

In the fall, the selection sold in campus includes kale, mustard greens, lettuce, arugula, turnips, radishes and celeriac. Since the farm has a meat handlers license from the N.C. Department of Agriculture, it is able to sell pork from farm-raised pigs on occasion, processed by a USDA licensed meat processor in Wilkesboro.

Proceeds from the sales help purchase garden tools, seeds, animal feed and other items to support the farm’s operation.

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