In the modern world, the society is very busy with everyday routine and fast-paced rhythm of life. On the one hand, people are involved in the daily responsibilities, economic and political issues, so they tend to forget about ecological problems and natural resources. On the other hand, the trend of living a life in balance with the nature is gaining popularity. People pay more and more attention to the problems of life and ecosystems. Currently, the idea of sustainability is becoming a dominant trend in the society. The profile of a sustainability-related object is an actual tool for spreading the idea of living in harmony with nature. The paper focuses on the UCD student farm, a local object in Davis, which is one of the best examples of sustainability in the area and thus one of the most suitable for this profile as it has recently been widely discussed.
First, it is necessary to focus on the history of this initiative as it can provide an insight into the strategies that need to be implemented or vulnerabilities of the project. The history of success of the UCD Student Farm is quite long. The initiative was started in 1977 when a group of volunteer students planted their first crops in the twenty-acre area not far from the Davis campus of the University of California. Soon after that, the group launched, organized, and successfully finished a multiple number of projects, which made the community and the university officials pay attention to the Student Farm initiative. Today, UCD Student Farm is an excellent institution, where staff and student employees are guiding its activity and manage all the efforts there (“History”).
The principles of work of UCD Student Farm is very simple. It attracts and engages students in working and researching into the actual soil. At the farm students and all the participants can grow different plants in many ways; for example, they can watch and observe the process of growth twenty-four hours a day and learn the idea of the real sustainability of practice. The understanding of the true sustainability comes to participants of the farm through working with the soil, observing climate and crops, and communicating with other members of the farm (“Welcome”). Sufficient knowledge of these principles would help the future citizens of the USA or any country of the world to proceed with the ethical decisions, which would regard sustainability as one of the main factors in the decision-making process and building a business in general.
To have a broad, profound and exact understanding of the UCD Student Farm, it is necessary to review the activities, which are available for students and learning community on this farm. The first activity is called an Ecological Garden. On this half-acre piece of land the participants learn how to manage the garden efficiently and in a sustainable manner. A farm is a place where students could practice all their knowledge of breeding and seed-saving activities. Hence, every participant would have an opportunity to apply the theoretical knowledge obtained in the University in practice and real “field” conditions (“Student Farm Programs”). Furthermore, the Ecological Garden enables various groups from elementary schools to have educational visits here.
The next form of participation in the UCD Student Farm is the Market Garden. The students who decided to try themselves in farming, were involved in the full process of production of the organic fruit and vegetables. They do everything with their plants starting from seed saving and transplantation and ending with picking them and selling during the market days to the Dining Services, Local Businesses, or Coffee Shop. The latter is one of the loyal customers. To make this activity possible the Market Garden is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 12 pm. Monday and Thursday are the days of harvest activities when student farmers could sell them to the consumers. All the other days have the purpose of arranging the non-field activities related to Market Garden (“Student Farm Programs”). This initiative is available for students who are enrolled on the particular class at the UCD or are tasked with the Lead Student Farmer achievement.
Additionally, there are various activities and internships as, for instance, vineyard maintenance, where students have the ability to take care of four different breeds of table grapes. Furthermore, students have the possibility to work in the Student Farm Shop, where they could get practical skills in working with different agricultural appliances and machines. Students and interns learn how to maintain a tractor and implement it for the needs of the farm. Apart from this, the last available activity is the Student Farm Compost (“Student Farm Programs”). This initiative would be interesting for students and interns who want to have a better understanding of the compost production.
Having analyzed the information regarding UCD Student Farm, one may arrive at a conclusion that it is an outstanding place for Davis community and it is definitely worth supporting and developing. In reality, however, this mechanism would not work as expected due to the lack of qualified staff to work there, insufficient amount of seeds or plants, or, most importantly - lack of participants in similar initiatives.
To be confident about the way UCD Student Farm is functioning, it is absolutely necessary to conduct some primary and secondary researches into the level of awareness of the Davis citizen and students of UCD about the available facilities and their possible usage. There is a short list of questions, which some students from the campus should answer. They were designed to check the level of involvement of the students in the initiative of the UCD. The opinion poll was not very big as it was aimed at obtaining general results of the students’ awareness in the Davis campus. However, it could provide only the simplest information – a feeling of participation and acceptance of the initiative from the students. Among ten respondents which agreed on the five interviews, seven claimed that they voluntarily participated in different activities of the UCD Student Farm for their pleasure. The results have shown that this participation was not formal owing to some subjects at the university. It was their own decision to work at the Student Farm to get the practical knowledge of the farming process, ecological growing, and sustainability.
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In general terms, the “field” research and interview have demonstrated that the UCD Student Farm is an initiative that is mainly supported by the students who are willing to participate in its activities on a voluntarily basis, being not motivated by the grades. Nevertheless, another question remains. It comprises the attitude of the Davis community to the initiative. The best reflection of the community opinion and perception of any institution or event is the analysis of the local media, both printed and online. It was not a hard task to find a broad range of materials about UCD Student Farm. This work would assess one of them, which contains the most common opinion about the mentioned institution. Diane Nelson – the author of the article, claims that the students of the UCD Student Farm do an essential job for the society. They breed different organic fruits and vegetables, which would be good for consumption and would require fewer resources to cultivate. The Diane draws an example of pepper and its crossing, which was performed on the UCD Student Farm (Nelson).
From this perspective, the interest of the Davis community in the Student Farm is evident. The trend of consumption organic food has become the leading one in the USA. Organic products are grown in the better conditions and with concern for the ecology. Furthermore, the organic food is lower in hydrogenated fat, which is one of the most harmful substances to the human body. Finally, genetically modified (GM) crops and seeds are banned by the standards of the organic food (“The Pros and Cons of Organic Food”). The society follows the trend of healthy consumption and treats UCD as the primary supplier of organic food in the area.
To summarize all the information from the profile of the University of California Student Farm, this initiative is an outstanding example of the sustainability and attention to the ecology. There is a wide range of activities available on the farm, which may involve students of UCD, primary school pupils, and community of Davis. However, these activities are mainly available for students of the UCD, since they may visit different areas of UCD with internship purposes by participating in some classes that require practice on the Student Farm or just volunteering there to get basic knowledge of working with soil. The Student Farm has a very complex structure of activities which include Ecological Garden, Market Garden, Vineyard, Student Farm Shop, and Student Farm Compost. The range of activities is broad enough, so that each student can find something interesting for him or her. In addition to this, the Student Farm attracted the attention of the Davis community, which is obvious through the analysis of the numerous publications about the Farm and initiatives present there. The main reason of such active involvement of the society is organic products, which are better for consumption. In essence, the UCD Student Farm is an institution which deserves attention, promotion, and support to make the idea of sustainability a dominating one in the society.