Delaware Valley University (DelVal) has received a grant from the William Hearst Foundation. The grant will benefit students in DelVal’s Organic Farming Program. The William Randolph Hearst Foundation is a national philanthropic resource for organizations working in the fields of culture, education, health, and social services.
The grant will expand DelVal’s capacity to provide summer programming for the Organic Farming Certificate Program (OFCP) and support enhanced program marketing and student experiences. The OFCP trains and supports the next generation of organic farmers and organic professionals, with an emphasis on military veterans.
“We’re so honored to be funded by this organization,” Jacqueline Ricotta, DelVal professor and chair of the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, said in a news release. “They’re such a wonderful philanthropic organization.”
Taught using DelVal’s “science with practice” hands-on philosophy, organic farming students are trained in basic organic field crop, vegetable, and livestock farming practices; the National Organic Standards; soil health and compost production; entrepreneurship and business training; financial and risk management training; diversification and marketing strategies; farm safety; and awareness of the impact of our current food systems on the environment and human health. The program prepares students to launch their own farm enterprises or work with existing organic farmers.
“The funding will directly help the students and we’ll be able to hire more help at the Roth Farm, where Bryce Cannon, Manager at Roth, will be able to spend more time helping students learn foundational farming skills,” said Dr.Ricotta. “You can’t learn these skills in the classroom.”
The grant will also support the student experience through participation in regional farming conferences and will help the program grow through expanded marketing. These conferences are valuable learning experiences for organic farming students as they develop their networks of organic farmers and helped to market the program to future students. Support from the Hearst Foundations will allow students to continue to attend these events and allow the program to enhance its marketing efforts to reach a greater number of potential students.