By Scott Stevenson
Local Journalism Initiative
Bishop’s University’s new agriculture program and educational farm are fertile ground for a larger English-language community initiative that could reach well beyond the Townships’ forests, fields, and urban landscapes.
The Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems program started at Bishop’s two years ago but is already growing like a good weed, reflecting a new trend in agricultural education right across Canada.
In a February 2020 article by journalist Matthew Halliday, University Affairs magazine identified the trend. “Canada’s agriculture faculties are becoming, with surprisingly little fanfare, and often underappreciated by students and colleagues, among the most exciting hubs of interdisciplinary collaboration on Canadian campuses,” wrote Halliday.
“From 1999 to 2007, full-time enrolment in agricultural programs…at all levels of postsecondary education across the country dropped from just over 6,000 students to 4,700. But, in 2008, something changed. Even as the number of farmers continued to dwindle, enrolment in agricultural programs started climbing. By 2016 – the latest year for which data are available – it reached an all-time high of 6,700 full-time students, with another 1,100 studying part-time.”
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