Spartanburg Community College has launched a new program to train the next generation of agribusiness entrepreneurs.
With support from the Mary Black Foundation and the Dominion Foundation, the Center for Sustainable Agriculture will serve as the centerpiece of a new certificate program focused on sustainable agriculture, agribusiness, and food systems, according to a news release. It was unveiled earlier this month with a celebration and ribbon-cutting event.
According to the release, the 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. The program, however, has also garnered the interest of students wanting to learn more about urban farming and community food systems, the release said. The first three classes were held this summer.
“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 complement 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.”
Located off Fairforest Road, the Center for Sustainable Agriculture features about a dozen gardening beds, a decorative silo, and a “barn” that has a large open area for events, indoor lectures, and project workshops, as well as a kitchen area for cleaning and sorting produce that’s delivered to community partners like Hub City Farmers’ Market.
Students participating in the program are producing about 1.5 acres of organically raised, seasonally grown fruits and vegetables, according to the release.
To date, about 900 people have been served through the Spartanburg Urban Mission and its Northside and Cleveland Heights interns and neighbors.
Bagwell said plans for the center include the addition of fruit and nut trees as well as bees, chickens, and goats.
“We hope to graduate students that are passionate and prepared for the requirements of the profession and have knowledge of environmental systems, design, farm construction, management, harvesting, and marketing of farm to table systems,” he said.
The Center for Sustainable Agriculture is available for guest tours and school visits. To schedule a visit, contact Jay Moore, horticulture instructor, at [email protected]
For more information, visit www.sccsc.edu.