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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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Burdwan University: All You Need To Know

The Burdwan University was accredited with ‘Grade A’ by National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in 2016

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Burdwan University
The Burdwan University was established on 15th June 1950. Wikimedia Commons
  • The Burdwan University has a 316-acre campus in three locations
  • It has nearly 50 major buildings
  • The University has 2000 externally sponsored projects

The Burdwan University, established by the then Chief Minister of West Bengal Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy on 15th June 1960, was a master plan to expand the scope of higher education beyond the metropolis.The Burdwan University results speak about its volume.

The University initiated its journey with 6 postgraduate departments and 30 undergraduate colleges. Now, with 93 postgraduate courses, 179 esteemed faculties, and 222 affiliated colleges; the Burdwan University has emerged as one of the premier institutions of higher education in India. The University was accredited with ‘Grade A’ by National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in 2016.

University of Burdwan
The Burdwan University has a 316-acre campus in three locations. Wikimedia Commons

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The Maharaja of Burdwan

The Burdwan University is built on the estate left by the last Maharaja of Burdwan, Udaychand Mahtab. The most important part is the ‘Mahatab Manjil’, once the royal palace of the Maharaja of Burdwan, it has now been turned into the administrative centre of the university. A marble plaque at the east gate gives information about the construction of the Mahatab Manjil by British firm Macintosh and Co., it is a unique representation of early 19th century Indo-European construction and was declared a heritage building by the Government of West Bengal on the 29th April 2013.

The work of a British botanist, Golapbag is where the academic cluster of the Burdwan University is located. The garden has nearly 1200 trees, 154 rare centuries’ old mahogany trees included, the historic Golapbag has been recently declared by the Botanical Survey of India as the Bio-diversity Heritage site. Other royal sites like Tarabag, Udaykanan, and Abhoykanan have been turned into residential hubs. The University also has a lake at the centre of a 56.3-acre eco garden, that is called Krishnashavar or the Black Lake.

Vision and Objectives

The University focuses on the empowerment of youth. It is a place that offers an opportunity to invent and reinvent minds. A place that helps students to disseminate the wisdom, ancient and modern, as also the art of critiquing them, among generations of student and teacher for the betterment of the human social existence, both local and global.

Objectives of the University of Burdwan:

  • Creating the most vibrant knowledge pool
  • Providing comparable and competitive facilities
  • Trying to achieve excellence in all fields of the university activity
  • Empowering the backward social clusters of its hinterland through teaching-learning process beyond classroom
  • Promoting the ethnic, social, religious and cultural diversity in unity
  • Reinvigorating our composite heritage in consonance with global India
University of Burdwan
The Burdwan University has nearly 50 major buildings. Wikimedia Commons

Governance of the University

The Burdwan University, an autonomous state university, has the governor of West Bengal as its Chancellor. Day-to-day administration is the leader of the Vice Chancellor, who is appointed by the Governor (on the recommendation of the state government).

However, the highest body in the administrative structure is the ‘University Court’. It deals with a diverse range of issues including human resources, financial activities, research administration and student affairs. The University court consists of ex-officio members, representatives, five nominated members, and invitees.

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Members of the University Court:

  • The Chancellor
  • The Vice-Chancellor
  • The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Administration and Academic)
  • The Deans of the Faculty councils for Post-Graduate Studies
  • The Secretary, Higher Education Department, Government of West Bengal or his nominee not below the rank of Joint Secretary to the Govt. of West Bengal
  • The Secretary, Finance Department, Government of West Bengal or his nominee not below the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government of West Bengal
  • The Chairman, West Bengal State Council of Higher Education or his nominee
  • The President, West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education
  • The President, West Bengal Madrasah Education Board
  • The President, West Bengal Board of Secondary Education
  • The Director of Public Instruction, West Bengal or his nominee not below the rank of Additional Director
  • The Chairman of the College Service Commission or a member of the Commission as his nominee
  • A nominee of the Chairman of University Grants Commission
  • Heads of Departments of the University

Executive Council is the next in hierarchy, it is responsible for decision-making in the matters of day-to-day affairs. The Executive Council consists of staff and student members. Further, the three faculties have their own Academic Councils consisting of Head of Departments.

The Burdwan University has 2000 externally sponsored projects. Wikimedia Commons

Admissions

To get into the line of Burdwan University’s admission is a task in itself as it consistently ranks among the best in India. Admissions in undergraduate courses of Engineering requires students to appear for WBJEE, an entrance examination that is open to students all over the country. While Postgraduate students have to appear for GATE.

For admissions in the courses of Faculty of Arts and Science, students are required to appear for an examination that is conducted by the respective department.

Facilities

  • Campus-wide Fiber Optic LAN
  • Internet facilities provided by National Knowledge Network (NKN) has a speed of 20 MBPS
  • E-Journal facilities
  • On-campus NSS programs
  • Health facilities like ECG, X-Ray, USG, Pathological Test, Lung Function Test, Foetal Doppler, Immunization, and Physiotherapy

The University also has a Museum and Art Gallery.

The Burdwan University has a 398-acre campus spread in three locations, in which 95% of postgraduate and undergraduate students live on-campus. With a faculty-student ratio of 25:1, 22 eminent scientists are currently working as members of the University. The University has a research budget of 123.45 million and has 2000 externally sponsored projects. All in all, the university is a full-package for hands-on and quality learning.