SRU earns ‘Blue Ribbon College Farm’ recognition
Nov. 3, 2016
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's earth-friendly farming practices at the Macoskey Center for Sustainability Systems Education and Research has reaped a Top 20 ranking from Online College Plan.
SRU ranked 17th on a list of 60 "Blue Ribbon College Farms."
"We're very pleased to be recognized with a Blue Ribbon ranking," said Paul Scanlon, special assistant to the president's office for sustainability. "The Macoskey Center provides hands-on, immersive educational experiences in permaculture design, organic gardening and other sustainable agriculture practices for our students. The center also provides fresh, nutritious crops and eggs to our dining halls when harvest volumes permit, reducing our ecological footprint and the distance our food has to be transported - literally a 'Farm to School' undertaking. "
OCP rated schools to celebrate the efforts of student-run farms during October's designation as "Farm to School Month." The U.S. Congress established "Farm to School Month" in 2010 to demonstrate farm-to-school programs, improve nutrition, support local economies and educate children about the food on their plates.
"The (Macoskey Center) is committed to growing and providing organic, sustainable crops for both the nutritional aspect and the ecological impact," Online College Plan said of the 83-acre complex.
OCP used a numerical methodology to rate school farms, awarding points in the following categories:
- Farm size in acres: 0 to 9 acres, 1 point; 10 to 49 acres, 2 points; 50 to 99 acres, 3 points; and 100 acres-plus, 5 points;
- Crop variety: 1 point per crop type;
- Sustainability-related degree options: 5 points
In the event of a tie, schools were ranked based on the alphabetical ordering of the school's name. SRU received 12 points. The top-ranked school, the Ecological Agriculture Center at Robert Shone Farm at Santa Rosa (California) Junior College, earned 17 points.
SRU students are heavily involved in the raising of a variety of organic crops at the Macoskey Center, including: peppers, squash, zucchini, radishes, corn, pumpkins, onions, watermelon, apple and cucumbers. A number of free-range chickens provide eggs which are sold locally, as well as being used at SRU dining halls. In return, the Macoskey Center receives up to 35 pounds of post-consumer material such as fruit cores and wilted lettuce from the dining halls on a daily basis that is used to make compost.
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