Students attend, present at sustainable agriculture conference

OCTOBER 30, 2012
by Jenn Summers ’13, Contributing Writer

This past weekend, students George Flowers and Coleman Allums along with Furman’s former president David Shi shared their experiences with sustainability and farming at the 27th annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference hosted by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association in downtown Greenville.

The conference, attended by nearly 800, included farmers, entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, students, gardeners and anyone with an interest in sustainable land stewardship, farming and related  government policy. Topics of discussion included forest farming, how to cook using local foods and the expired farm bill which contains funding for sustainable agriculture research and support.

Shi, who is living in the Greenville area, introduced the keynote speaker for the conference Friday night. He highlighted Furman’s community service and the importance of organic farms and environmental issues.

On Sunday, Allums and Flowers presented at the student-led Farm and Food Projects Panel. Allums, who served as the student assistant farm manager for Furman’s organic farm last summer, discussed how two May Experience courses helped shaped his views on sustainability.

One class, he said, focused on the important connections between food and culture. Another, Slow Food Italy, required that he live and work on Italian farm to study the slow-food movement, which encourages sustainable farming and consumption of locally grown foods.

These opportunities led him to his current research for his senior thesis which will explore Upstate farmers’ views of sustainability.

Flowers, who also completed the Slow Food Italy course, presented on his summer research in Tanzania, which inspired his senior thesis topic on a comparison of views of sustainability between the West and the developing world. This research, combined with opportunities to work on his fraternity’s farm and farms across Europe, was a highlight of his Furman education.

Furman students shared the panel with students from Presbyterian College, Warren Wilson College, and the University of North Carolina Asheville.

“I was struck by how much all the universities seemed to believe in the power of collective action and that the student body could have the power to change things on their campuses,” said Allums.

Furman’s organic farm, located adjacent to the Shi Center for Sustainability, sent six Furman student farm workers and several staff members, including farm manager Bruce Adams.

“It was a great conference,” said Adams. “I think the students really learned a lot and are able to bring that knowledge back and take the farm to the next level.”