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30 Days of Giving

30 Days of Giving 2019, Day 15: Tompkins Cortland Students Give Back To the Community Through Sustainable Farming

A Tompkins Cortland Community College student stands in a farm field outside a sustainable greenhouse she help build.

Some of the most effective learning takes place when students have the opportunity to become teachers. The fall capstone class of the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems program at Tompkins Cortland Community College is designed to do just that. Meant to bridge the gap between the college classroom and the ‘real world,’ the Sustainable Farming capstone is a three credit course in which students complete a related research, community outreach, or service project of their choosing. It’s a chance for students to develop public speaking and leadership skills as well as for others to benefit from the practical application of all that they have been learning.

Stand out service-learning projects this semester included a well-attended lecture put on by farming students at the Tompkins History Center in nearby Ithaca, and student-led agricultural education unit at local Candor High School, resulting in construction of a winterized greenhouse.

Students Jorge Ferrabone and Melissa Baxter-Martin teamed together to research and develop a presentation around the history of local food and agriculture in the region, from its indigenous origins, through the influences of the first colonial settlers, and to the present day. Putting on a free talk open to the public, they led a crowd of roughly 60 attendees in an engrossing and informative hour-long talk on the topic.

Classmate Makenna Raspantini opted to trace her way back to the high school she graduated from just last June, leading juniors and seniors there through a series of workshops around greenhouse construction, hydroponics, and general gardening. Helping them to extend the short Central New York growing season, she oversaw the construction and winterizing of a new high school green house.

The work these students are doing before graduation is already having a great impact on their communities, and they are sure to continue those meaningful contributions to their field wherever the future may take them.


Across SUNY, students, faculty and administration alike are coming together to in the spirit of charity and togetherness. 30 Days of Giving is our annual tradition, which starts on Thanksgiving every year, where we reflect on efforts of the past year and highlight some of the selfless acts of that members of the SUNY community are leading. Stay tuned for more.

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Written by Taryn Rackmyer

Taryn Rackmyer is a recent graduate of Mohawk Valley Community College, now attending the University at Albany for Public Policy. Taryn is a student assistant for SUNY's Government Relations & Marketing Department.

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