This year’s Environmental Psychology class has teamed up with the sustainability program to involve students more implicitly in the steps it takes for their food to get from farm to table. Sustainability Coordinator, Jen Abraham-White and Dr. Dave Devonis are leading the program with the help of local expert, Peter Krueger.
Environmental Psychology professor Dr. David Devonis has worked with the sustainability program in the past; the class helped with the Hoop House vegetable garden in the spring of 2014. Digging in the dirt, planting seeds and seedlings, weeding, watering and harvesting over a semester’s time gave students the opportunity to relate to the biological systems upon which food systems rely. For some students in the class it was the first time they had ever planted anything.
Abraham-White explains, “Our intent is to connect students more closely with the food they eat and, in doing so, maybe develop greater reverence for where that food comes from. This year, in addition to having students actively participate in growing food from seed to vegetable, they are also going to learn about raising broiler chickens. The student response is remarkable!”
Lamoni resident Peter Krueger, with his strong theological background, has this to say about the experience thus far, “Thinking sustainably is much more than ‘what do I eat for dinner?’ or ‘what do I put into my car’s gas tank?’ Sustainability branches into metaphysical questions such as, ‘how do I value my life,’ and ‘how do I value the lives around me?’ Thinking sustainably is here to stay. Perhaps it is, after all, a present realization of ‘the life everlasting.’”
In preparation for the project, students have built the waterers, feeders, the enclosure in the hoop house for the chickens, and prepared the environment for the arrival of the chicks. On Feb. 18, the chicks arrived in a box via the mail to a very excited group of students.
Devonis remarked, “Exposing students to the natural environment in which they live changes the way they see themselves. Most of the younger generation is so far removed from agriculture that they have no idea how their food gets to the grocer or even what they’re actually eating. When we actually got the chickens it was a total spiritual experience. My colleagues are addressing real philosophical issues with their teaching. Getting outside of the classroom, the experience itself draws us into the living world. This is experiential teaching at its best.”
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