SCC Looks to Grow Sustainable Agriculture Program

Article by: Zach Fox
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Spartanburg Community College hopes one of its newest programs is the final step to prepare students interested in careers in farming, agriculture or food science.

SCC is working to expand its sustainable agriculture program, which started at the college this year. Last month, the Mary Black Foundation awarded SCC $76,860 for infrastructure changes on campus to grow the program s capabilities.

Rebecca Parrish, director of grants at SCC, said the effort will fund a production building with a meeting room, equipment and storage area, was station and coolers along with a fruit and vegetable processing area.

A majority of this grant will be used to build that infrastructure on campus, she said. It s incredibly crucial to have grant funding. Whenever you build a new program at a college, you have to have partnerships in place and you have to have that funding to build the infrastructure.

The building will be on the back corner of campus closest to the Fairforest community with the horticulture program facilities and greenhouse.

Sustainable agriculture combines the best ways to grow food sustainably with agribusiness and food services studies. SCC students graduating from the program could move on to most careers in the food industry.

Courses at the college are focused on the ecological, biological, environmental and economic impacts of sustainably-grown food.

Landscaping, greenhouse nursery work and rain harvesting the process of collecting rainwater and using it to water the plants inside are also taught in the program.

Last year, Dominion Energy awarded the college $5,000 in grant money for installing a reservoir tank to catch rain, along with piping to help it flow to the greenhouse.

Jason Bagwell, chairman of the horticulture department, said sustainable farming involves multiple crops being produced and harvested from a limited amount of land with either the grower or a specific consumer benefiting.

SCC s program is similar to one started in Spartanburg District 6, Parrish said.

The district grows crops on a piece of land in the historic Cragmoor Farms area, along with other vegetables grown in a greenhouse just behind the Dorman High School Freshman Campus.

Fruits and veggies grown by Dorman High students are used in the district s food service program, part of lunches for students, and sold at farmers markets at the school some Saturday mornings.

SCC sustainable agriculture students in the program will work closely with the Hub City Farmers Market and other local businesses during and after harvests, Parrish said.

The business experience provided in the program combined with the more science-focused efforts should give students more than enough preparation for a job in the agribusiness field, she said.

It s a really hot industry right now. There isn t another program really like it in this region, she said. We really wanted it to be a teaching tool and to be a resource to connect us to other people and other organizations.

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