Urban Agriculture Institute
Our Urban Agriculture Institute at Richmond High School is a student-driven “farm, classroom, and community” program with four key components:
- The Institute’s in-class, accredited coursework – “Urban Ecology and American Food Systems” – studies biophysical and socioeconomic forces (e.g., biology, economics, public policy) to help students understand, predict, and manage the emergent phenomena we call cities. Co-taught by a school-district teacher and Urban Tilth, the course uses lectures, readings, discussions, cooking, practical lab experiences, and field trips to explore urban ecology, botany, and horticulture, plant propagation, nutrition and food, and environmental justice.
- In the Institute’s “on the farm” component, Institute students move outdoors, onto the 8,000 square foot farm and 14 raised garden beds that the school district has allowed us to build and operate on-site at the school, where we also have a tool-shed and a greenhouse. The site also offers an additional 20,000 square feet available for us to plant and farm in the coming years.
- To continue their studies during summer break, many of the Institute students participate in our paid, 100-hour Summer Youth Apprenticeship component, in which we partner with the City’s Employment and Training division to employ local youth to develop farms and gardens citywide.
- In the program’s Community Supported Agriculture component, we distribute about 10,000 lbs of produce annually to school families. Currently, demand for our CSA bags far outstrips our supply; due to our limited production, today our CSA provides 30 school families with 12-lb bags of produce every two weeks (approximately 10,000 lbs a year). We are developing a three-year plan to increase our school-site productivity and efficiency, to expand the CSA to the community beyond the school.
You can see videos produced by our Urban Agriculture and Food Systems students by clicking on the links below:
Bob Gade is the course instructor. He is supported by Doria Robinson and Adam Boisvert of Urban Tilth. The link below is a powerpoint presentation about the class. 9 RHS students presented this powerpoint to the Richmond City Council on Tuesday, May 26th, 2009.