It is an exciting time to be a student in Trent’s Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems program – not only has the University launched a new specialization in Small-Scale Farming but students will help to break ground on relocating the Trent Farm.
“Students will have the opportunity to get their hands dirty as early as this Spring, as we commence with soil sampling, monitoring and soil building in the new farming space,” says Dr. Karen Thompson, coordinator of the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems program and assistant professor in the Trent School of the Environment. “Students will work alongside expert faculty as we plan the operations and logistics of moving to and setting up our new space.”
Students will play an active role in preparing the land for farming by implementing good soil management and other regenerative agriculture practices, which will not only be beneficial to the farm but also the surrounding nature areas.
Opportunity for growth
Trent’s farming assets are in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly goal #2, Food Security, and is central to the University’s recently approved Trent Lands and Nature Areas Plan. The vision for the farm is to combine the optimization of food production with nature and biodiversity protection. By doing so, it also provides net benefits to the natural environment.
To achieve this vision, the Trent Farm is being relocated from its current location that is challenged by seasonal saturation and challenging slopes and is constrained by a provincial highway reserve, to underutilized farmland with the potential for improved carrying capacity, diversified production, water regulation, rich soil and nutrient cycles, and symbiotic interfaces with habitat and wildlife.
Fostering future farmers
The enhanced learning opportunities for students on the Trent Farm and through Trent’s new Small-Scale Farming specialization are extremely timely as the world braces for the socio-economic and ecological impacts of climate change, compounded by the global pandemic, which has brought about a renewed focus on local and regional food security.
“We are at a point where it is no longer good enough to simply be sustainable; we need to be building back to avoid climate change catastrophes,” says Dr. Michael Classens, assistant professor in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. “With people trying to engage with the concept of regenerative agriculture more critically, the Small-Scale Farming specialization, combined with our campus growing spaces, provide us with exciting opportunities to demonstrate and measure the impact of regenerative agricultural practices.”
The Trent Farm will be a model of how agriculture can be a positive interface with natural features, while also contributing to local food security.
Prospective students still have the opportunity to join a new crop of future farmers – applications are currently open for the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems program.