By STEVE BROWN
LYNNWOOD, Wash. -- Edmonds Community College has received a $900,000, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to start a Sustainable Agriculture Education collaborative program.
Known as SAgE, the program, developed by Jason Niebler, vice president of Workforce Development and Training, will expand the scope of the Horticulture Department to include education in vegetable and fruit production and other aspects of sustainable, local food systems.
The existing department has focused on ornamental and restoration horticulture.
Edmonds Community College will lead the SAgE Initiative in collaboration with Skagit Valley College, Seattle Central Community College and Washington State University.
Niebler, who has joined the Horticulture Department as the SAgE director, said the program will prepare students for emerging green careers in sustainable agriculture and related environmental fields.
Niebler said he plans to develop programs "founded on the principles of agro-ecology and engage students in creative solutions to environmental and socioeconomic problems through the lens of sustainable food systems and production."
With a focus on agricultural best practices within urban, suburban and rural landscapes, the SAgE collaborative will:
* Develop and improve existing innovative community college curriculum.
* Offer field-based research and real-world service and internship opportunities.
* Design education and career pathways from secondary school through two- and four-year institutions.
* Establish a student farm in cooperation with 21 Acres Farm and Viva Farms.
* Expand the collaborative throughout Puget Sound to demonstrate a regional model for sustainable agriculture education and community development.