Sustainable development research farm reaches out to students, town

Posted on October 12, 2010 by The Appalachian

Artificially inseminated pigs and territorial rooster fights are not what usually come to mind when one thinks of sustainable development, but these are exactly the kinds of things going on at Appalachian's Sustainable Development Teaching and Research Farm.
The Sustainable Development Student Alliance (SDSA) held Fall Farm Day Sunday at the farm in Valle Crucis. Over 30 community members attended tours and workshops aimed at educating the public about the farm, how it works and what they do there.

Meggie A. Hanchette, senior sustainable development major, said the university's agroecology class uses the farm each week for labs and workshops related to their field, such as keeping livestock, sanitation and using a solar dehydrator to dehydrate food like basil, tomatoes, and apples. It is the agroecology lab class that will be artificially inseminating the farm's pig, Ms. Piggy.

Hanchette would like to see the farm better publicized because she believes more people should know about sustainable development and the work they do there.

"We're trying to expand a little bit because we want it to be an experimental farm for people to use," Hanchette said, "but we also just got donated another farm a little further out and we're in the process of moving our classes over to that farm. It's about five times bigger than this one, so we'll have a lot more space and then this one will become a graduate student's abyss of land to use and try [sustainable] methods."

On a tour of the research farm, led by Hanchette, attendees learned about the farm's planting methods, medicinal garden, use of animals to prepare land for planting, and even recycling human waste as fertilizer, which they call "humanure."

Hanchette is also concerned about getting children interested in sustainable development at an earlier age. SDSA is currently heading a project to fix up the Hardin Park Elementary School greenhouse so it can be used as an educational tool for the children there.

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