Using a hands-on approach in the practice of raising food in urban and suburban areas, College of DuPage students now can work alongside industry professionals in an urban farm setting as part of the College’s new Urban Farming certificate program.
“Urban agriculture is a large movement across the country and it continues to grow,” said Assistant Horticulture Professor Brian Clement. “Restaurants are installing rooftop gardens in order to grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables. Cities and municipalities now have green roofs and expanding urban farms, and Chicago has been a leader in this area for more than a decade. You can even become an entrepreneur and grow organic produce that can be sold at farmer’s markets.”
An extension of the College’s Sustainable Urban Agriculture program, the new seven-credit, stackable certificate includes three courses: Sustainable Urban Vegetable and Herb Production, Hydroponic and Aquaponic Production Systems, and Introduction to Composting.
“By organizing the Sustainable Urban Agriculture program into a series of certificates that build on each other, we can offer incremental milestones for students on the path to associate degree completion,” said Clement. “This approach helps students progress along the education continuum while earning credentials with labor market value.”
In 2016, funding from a Perkins Grant enabled the College to build a new sustainable urban agriculture lab on west campus that provides students with experiential learning opportunities. The urban farm features 12 raised beds, including two for organic production. A high tunnel extends the growing season and allows students to continue hands-on work as the weather turns colder. Students are also gaining experience on hydroponic lettuce tables, a microgreens table and Dutch Bucket hydroponic systems.
In addition to students looking for a career, the program is ideal for horticulture students who want to cross-train as well as community members who want to improve their knowledge and skills in gardening.
“People are excited about the whole industry,” he said. “Students who complete either their degree or certificate in Sustainable Urban Agriculture are ready to enter the workplace.”
Unique Program Expands Opportunities for DuPage County Inmates
The creation of the Urban Farming certificate program also provides an opportunity for non-violent inmates at the DuPage County Jail to earn stackable college credit thanks to a partnership between COD Horticulture program, the DuPage County Sherriff’s Office and JUST of DuPage.
“When the partnership launched last year, inmates were empowered to earn three credit hours through one eight-week course,” said Horticulture Instructor Connie Kollmeyer. “So many detainees were excited to continue learning after successfully completing that first class, and we wanted to offer them a next step. Now, we are thrilled to offer them three courses, which will enable them to earn a certificate and the ability and confidence to apply for work in the field and to continue their education upon their release.”
Learn more about COD's Horticulture program.
|Jennifer Duda||Primary: (630) 942-3097|
|News Bureau and Community Engagement Senior Manager|
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