Spartanburg Community College Unveils New Building and Program at the Center for Sustainable Agriculture Celebration

Staff Report From Spartanburg CEO

Friday, September 14th, 2018

Spartanburg Community College unveiled its newest campus addition - The Center for Sustainable Agriculture - at a celebration and ribbon cutting event held on Tuesday, September 11 at SCC's Central Campus in Spartanburg.
 
With support from the Mary Black Foundation and the Dominion Foundation, SCC's Horticulture Department constructed its Center for Sustainable Agriculture, a red barn-style building serving as the centerpiece of a new certificate program focused on sustainable agriculture, agribusiness and food systems. The new Center is located at the SCC entrance off Fairforest Road.
 
Launched in fall 2017, the first of three classes were held this summer from May-July at the new barn and surrounding property that includes gardening beds, a silo and a rain barrel used to collect and store rain water runoff. The certificate 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, but has garnered students with a keen interest in urban farming and community food systems.
 
"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," explains Jason Bagwell, SCC's department chair of Horticulture. "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 compliment 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."
 
The Center for Sustainable Agriculture houses the production and education center featuring classroom space, storage space, and a washing and harvesting center where harvested crops are washed, weighed, packaged, and prepared for volunteer pick-up and delivery to community partners like Hub City Farmers' Market.
 
The program is producing approximately 1.5 acres of organically raised, seasonally grown fruits and vegetables, which includes four 4'x75' incubator beds for shared community use. To date, 900 have been served through the Spartanburg Urban Mission and its Northside and Cleveland Heights interns and neighbors.
 
Bagwell adds that future plans 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."