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Iowa Students run Farm and cultivate love for Sustainable Agriculture

The Student Organic Farm, where working is often independent of academic interests, works on the model of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

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An agricultural land in Vietnam. Image. Wikimedia
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  • Student Organisation Farm began in the 90s’ as a practical application of sustainability in agriculture
  • A group of university students who started cultivating in farms for local consumption
  • About 40 different fruits, vegetables and herbs are on the list for the present season of growth at the Iowa Student Organisation Farms

Students of the Iowa State University donning casual tees, covered in mud and carefully pulling up weeds as they distinguish between different stages of perennial chives, rhubarb, etc., with their diligently gloved hands might be an unusual sight 20 years ago, but today, a whole new concept of farming has evolved from among the youth in campus.

About two decades back, the lure of multiple small-scale farming groups on the coast pulled shoppers to the markets for their fresh produce and their rich practice of sustainable agriculture. The same was adopted by a group of university students who started cultivating in farms for local consumption. Thus emerged the first ‘community-supported-agriculture’ (CSA) farm in the area, marking a new trend of sustainable growth in the heartland.

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Student Organisation Farm began in the 90s’ as a practical application of sustainability in agriculture. As more and more learners of agronomy enrolled for a dedicated weekly programme, the work got divided, and productive. “I didn’t know how passionate I [would] become for physical work,” says culinary science major Heidi Engelhardt.

“People want to work in kitchens and they want to work in big cities. And that is important, but it’s also important to have that farming aspect. And I think I’m very lucky to have discovered that” adds Heidi as she walks towards the student farm landscaped by basic agricultural tools and farming equipments in the campus.

An agricultural Land. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
An agricultural Land using liquid fertilizers. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The Student Organic Farm, where working is often independent of academic interests, works on the model of CSA. Boxes full of freshly produced soybeans, corns and other plants are sent out to the local community during the ripe growing season. Those among students who work three hours a week are entitled to a discounted subscription price.

“Its’ hands-on learning,” says agronomy professor Mary Wiedenhoeft, who serves as an academic adviser on the farm. “And so that’s why the student organic farm is really unique.”

“Not a lot of people in agronomy are going in my direction,” says Riley Madole, who has a paid job as the summer farm manager. Riley aims to pursue the work as career after he graduates in December. As he talks about students assisting in dumping of handfuls of weeds into barrows so the compost doesn’t grow on farms, he adds, “whether it be straight organic or just reduced pesticide use,” its’ the kind of work he would love to do.

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Other than growth assistance and weed removal, students learn to grow food, take care of plants, manage a business, work as a team and know how recruitment works. All the same is inclusive of the added benefit of getting to savor the fruits of their labour, literally.

“I went out and harvested some Brussels sprouts and they’re now my favorite vegetable,” says senior Becca Clay, an agronomy major who joined the farm in her first semester.

Culinary science students express how they assimilated knowledge of their course while working in farms by gaining experience on how to “incorporate fresh herbs into cooking” and other similar tasks. About 40 different fruits, vegetables and herbs are on the list for the present season of growth at the Iowa Student Organisation Farms.

“I really like beets,” says meteorology student Kati Togliatti who started eating beets only after she enrolled as a student volunteer in the farm.

-by Maariyah Siddiquee, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @MaariyahSid

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Does Suspending Students From The Class Work?

The college and faculty should devise a program that lets students freely interact with the teaching staff about their concerns as SUSPENSION of students is not at all a solution

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Representational image for Suspension.
Suspension of students may lead to behavioural issues. Pixabay

Some BBA colleges believe that suspending students from class instils discipline
and in return changes their behaviour. However, this approach is not the right way to
fix problems. Especially, when they have just entered adulthood and are on the
verge of either making or breaking their life. Faculty members should try and dig out
the reason that’s triggering inappropriate behaviour in students. The questions they
need to ask themselves is why they are not learning and why they are showcasing a
weird behaviour. Faculty members must understand that suspension does not fix
behavioural issues, it often makes it worse. For example, MBA, B. Tech and BBA subjects are comprehensive and suspending a student from any of the classes will
make them lose interest in the particular subject. This loss of interest will hamper
grades as the student will not be able to cover the losses due to suspension.

How To Understand the causes of inappropriate behaviour

Faculty members must understand the cause behind inappropriate behaviour with an
aim to guide the students. Behavioural issues can be because of multiple reasons,
some of them include:
 Frustration due to inability to understand the subject
 They are made to feel inadequate
 Unintentionally or intentionally students/teachers are picking on them
 Their efforts are not appreciated
 Biased behaviour of faculty (favouritism)

Suspension may lead to depression.
Suspension may lead to depression. Pixabay

Let’s look why suspension does not work if the student is under any of the above-
mentioned mental state.

Decreased Confidence

With every suspension, students start losing confidence and start believing they are
good for nothing. Even if they wish to give a genuine try, the thought of another
suspension keeps them away from attending classes. Furthermore, they also start
feeling humiliated in front of those who never get suspended and score well. Instead
of suspension, the faculty should sit and have a weekly session with rule-abiding
students to understand what leads to such behavioural issues.

Increased Rebellious Attitude

Faculty members must understand that repeat suspensions instil a rebellious attitude
in students and they might skip the classes for the entire semester. The approach
will not only affect their attendance but their grades as well. The higher the number
of suspensions the lower the scores. Thus, the faculty should maintain a low rate of
suspensions to have no impact on the scores and performance of the suspended
students.

They Become Habitual

The faculty members think that suspension is one of the best ways to handle
disciplinary actions. It might be true in some cases, but one of the most significant
disadvantages it carries with itself is that students become habitual of the suspension. Instead of taking it as a punishment for their betterment, they start
looking forward to suspension so that they can have a great time loitering around the
campus or chilling with friends in the canteen. Here again comes the importance of
maintaining a low rate of suspensions for effective results.

Also Read: 4 Health Tips To Help Students Perform Well In Exam Season

A Close Look at Suspensions

Though suspension seems to be the right choice to change a student’s behaviour, is
the result even effective? Do students fear the suspension? Do they feel sorry about
being regularly suspended? Well, these are the questions faculty members should
keep in mind before they go ahead and suspend any student. As a solution, they
should make the students understand that all this is being done with an aim to help
them. The college and faculty should devise a program that lets students freely
interact with the teaching staff about their concerns. That is the key. Students should
feel that they are an essential part of the education system – they should feel
wanted.