“Don’t pick the peppers!” Associate Dean Lawrence Carter, Ph.d said over a megaphone to the dozens of men, women and children gathered for Florida A&M University’s Farm Fest Saturday. Too late, several attendees of the second annual event had already harvested a few crops from the university’s community development center in Quincy, Fla.
Tallahassee resident Novella Franklin snatched a few stray peppers. She called the experience of being on the FAMU’s farm educational. “It’s all teaching me; I’ve seen organic food in the grocery stores, but I’ve never seen it grown,” she told The FAMUAN. She was one of more than 200 residents, farmers and students who registered for the day-long event, hosted by FAMU’s College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture (CESTA) and Cooperative Extension Program.
While Franklin and others got their hands on fresh-from-the-vine produce, some sampled the yields of organic recipes from vendors who traveled from as far as South Florida to attend Farm Fest 2011. The event featured agriculture-themed tours of the farm, games for children and food.
Asst. Prof. Keawin Sarjeant called outreach a “primary focus” of FAMU’s Co-op division. Their New Wave Youth Entrepreneurship Project and the recent youth “Ag-It-Up” day prove it’s never too early to begin exposure to sustainable living practices.
Program Director Ray Mobley said Farm Fest and similar events remind the community of a more agrarian tradition.
“The lasting effect of this kind of activity is to solidify the relevance and value of providing resources, food, and other products in order to sustain families and lifestyles,” he said.
CESTA has about 400 students. A name change is in discussion under its restructuring, and students majoring in one of the disciplines of engineering can expect to shift or broaden the focus of their studies.
Supporters applauded as dean Carter ended Farm Fest opening remarks by boasting, “Come July 1 we can say the ‘College of Agriculture’ at FAMU again so people can recognize us for that.”
Mobley added, “The value of the restructuring is to make our programs more efficient and to continue to provide learning experiences that will prepare students for 21st century careers on a global scale, both here and around the world.”