NSF Grant for Cross-campus Clean Energy/Sustainable Agriculture Programs

Working in partnership with Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Holyoke Community College has been awarded an $810,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to create collaborative programs combining clean energy studies with sustainable agriculture and share new resources that will benefit students at all three schools.

“The main purpose of the grant is to marry what has for the most part historically been two separate sides of sustainability education – clean energy and agriculture,” said Kate Maiolatesi, coordinator of HCC’s Sustainability Studies program, who wrote the grant.

A large piece will pay for the development of cross-campus courses that combine the strengths of existing programs at each of the three schools: clean energy at HCC and sustainable agriculture at Hampshire College and UMass.

The first of these joint courses is expected to begin in the summer of 2015, Maiolatesi said.  

“Students from all three campuses will come here to HCC to learn about clean energy and then our students and their students will go to UMass and Hampshire for the agriculture piece,” she said.

The joint programs are expected to create stronger pathways for transfer from HCC to Hampshire and UMass for students who want to continue their studies in clean energy and sustainable agriculture after graduating from HCC.

 Another large portion of the grant will pay for new clean energy/agriculture equipment that will be used by students from all three schools, including a moveable greenhouse and mobile refrigeration unit at Hampshire and a micro-farm greenhouse demonstration and training facililty at UMass (both solar powered). Students will build the greenhouses and also convert an old diesel tractor into one powered by solar energy.

HCC will be getting a solar powered electric fence, composting, and irrigation equipment for its sustainability and permaculture gardens behind the Marieb Center, and a small wind turbine.

Money from the grant will also be used to pay stipends to students who want to do summer internships with clean energy businesses or local farms. 

For more information, the Hampshire College contact is Beth Hooker, director of Food, Farm and Sustainability, bhooker@hampshire.edu or 413-559-6902.