CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Planting the Seed Tour highlighted the ways one seven-acre farm on a college campus is educating, inspiring and giving back to its local community.
During the visit, Executive Deputy Secretary Michael Smith toured Wilson College’s Fulton Farm, a working produce farm and environmental education facility at the Fulton Center for Sustainability Studies. The organic farm provides hands-on learning experiences to students and the community and inspires future agriculturalists though full- and part-season internships in sustainable farming.
“The Fulton Farm is an excellent resource, not just to Wilson College, but to the surrounding community,” said Smith. “Its commitment to stewardship, sustainability, education and outreach provides students and their neighbors the chance to pursue and explore all of the opportunities available in agriculture.”
Dedicated to environmental stewardship, Fulton Farm endeavors to use a minimal amount of non-renewable resources; minimize pollution of the soil, water and air on the farm and “downstream”; promote biodiversity; ensure farm-worker safety and health; and provide healthy, locally produced food for the campus and community.
The farm is part of a Community Supported Agriculture program, providing produce to more than 125 community members. It is open to the public and provides free community learning events, cooking classes and composting demonstrations. The Fulton Center for Sustainability Studies teaches students how to promote sustainability in food production, energy, transportation and land stewardship.
“We are so pleased to have Deputy Secretary Smith visit Wilson College and Fulton Farm,” said Chris Mayer, director of Wilson’s Fulton Center for Sustainability Studies. “Our farm has been a model for community supported agriculture at since 1996 and as Wilson’s hands-on home for environmental education, we continue to educate students of all ages for humane stewardship of our communities and our world.”
Pennsylvania agriculture is a $135 billion industry with tremendous opportunities, but one that is also facing several challenges, including an aging workforce. Attrition and advancing technologies will result in a workforce deficit of nearly 75,000 over the next decade. The Planting the Seed Tour aims to engage and educate the next generation about the many education and career opportunities available in Pennsylvania agriculture.
Over the past three years, the Wolf Administration has invested more than $50 million in agriculture-related economic development projects; increased support for workforce development and agricultural education to help prepare students and workers for the thousands of anticipated job openings in the industry over the next decade; and signed historic legislation that has created new markets for farmers and lowered their tax burdens. The administration is also working to expand broadband access to hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, creating jobs and improving infrastructure statewide, especially in rural communities.
For more information about the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s programs and services, or to learn more about the Planting the Seed initiative, visit agriculture.pa.gov.
— Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture