Category: Green schools

As of the 2002 Census, the average age of all U.S. farmers was approximately 55. More distressing, though, is that from 1982 to 2002 the number of young principal farmers under 35 years old has declined from 16% to 9%.

To support the rise of a new generation of young farmers and ranchers, the USDA is stepping into the fray. It recently awarded 36 grants totaling $18 million for organizations to provide assistance and training to enable beginning farmers and ranchers to receive the training and assistance necessary to operate and grow successful, sustainable farms, USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced September 30.

“Beginning farmers and ranchers face unique challenges, and these grants will provide needed training to help these producers become profitable and sustainable,” Merrigan said. “American agriculture supports 1 in 12 jobs in America, a critical contribution to the strength and prosperity of the country.”

Merrigan continued: “The sheer productivity of our farmers has given Americans access to a cheap, wholesome food supply and provides us with more discretionary income than much of the rest of the world. But our farmers are aging, and more of our young people are looking outside of farming for their careers. It’s time to reverse these trends, keep farmers on the farm and help beginning farmers and ranchers thrive in their careers.”

The grants will flow through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) “Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program” (BFRDP).  Established in the 2008 Farm Bill, NIFA makes these grants to organizations carrying out education, training, technical assistance and outreach programs that help beginning farmers and ranchers with 10 years’ experience or less.

Awards were made to organizations in Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, the US Virgin Islands, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Select awardees include:

  • A project in New York to provide workshops, conferences, apprenticeships, online resources and mentoring services for more than 1,200 beginning farmers by 2014
  • A project in Montana will offer financial, credit and marketing training to beginning American Indian farmers
  • A project in Mississippi will develop and disseminate training materials and decision-making tools to high school and college students who plan to enter farming and ranching

 More information is available at:

Campus of Naropa University

Image via Wikipedia

Going to a green college may sound trendy, but for some students, a school with green, sustainable policies will be much more appealing to them.  Although they may not major in environmental studies, going to a green college will have a positive impact on their quality of life.

LEED Certified Buildings

When colleges, like Lawrence University, add new buildings they are often LEED certified which means they reduce energy and water use, improve air quality and use natural lighting when possible. Green garden roofs are often used to absorb energy, cool the building or reduce runoff by capturing rainwater.  Other colleges have renovated their residential halls  to make them more comfortable and less dorm-like to live in. 

 Eating Local and Organic

Other schools grow their own fruits and vegetables or support their community by buying from local farmers and dairies. Since organic vegetables have a shorter shelf life than commercially grown vegetables, they can quickly be used in cafeterias on college campuses that often serve three meals a day. Schools like Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, shun long-distance, low-grade cafeteria food, offering their students only the good stuff.

Do you need a car?

Can you walk from your dorm or apartment to classes? If the campus is large, is there plenty of public transportation?  What kinds of transportation is available? Green schools such as Arizona State University and University of Arkansas-Fayetteville provide a myriad of transportation options, from free bus passes to bike share and even car share programs.