We are Oregon agriculture.
The Horticulture Department at Clackamas Community College is in the business of growing future farmers. Yes, we grow food and ornamental crops too, but by far our most valuable commodity is our students who go on to be successful CSA farmers, farmers market managers, plant propagators, greenhouse growers, or any of a number of other types of horticulturists.
We’ve been growing farmers of one kind or another for over 40 years, so you can find our product distributed widely throughout the Willamette Valley and far beyond. Initially, our program included education about animals as well as plants – we even had sheep on campus for a while – but, due to the huge interest in the nursery business, the program morphed into one that focused on Greenhouse/Nursery production and also Landscape Management.
A few years ago, we changed and expanded our programs again. Every other student who walked through the door wanted to grow food. They wanted to provide safe, healthy food for their families and neighbors; they wanted to advocate for small family farms; they wanted to put food crops into their landscape designs; they wanted the kind of lifestyle that comes with working on the land. It didn’t take a PhD to realize that we needed to offer some new classes! So, in 2012, we began offering a degree in Urban Agriculture.
We still serve those interested in greenhouse and landscaping careers, but now our students can also get their hands dirty growing organic vegetables. They plan, plant, and harvest crops year round on our farm, in our high tunnel house, and in our propagation greenhouses. Students not only learn about food safety and harvest techniques, they practice it! They also get experience marketing the produce by engaging with customers at our CCC Farmers Market.
Change can be a good thing! Our students say that they love our hands-on programs, our inspiring teachers, and the potential for improving access to local, fresh, delicious food. And, the college looks forward to continuing to adapt in order to address the needs of our community for many years to come. Watch out…we might even be bringing some animals back onto campus! To learn more about CCC’s Urban Agriculture program, please visit http://www.clackamas.edu/Horticulture/programs.aspx.