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Op-Ed: Rollins Urban Farm cultivates sustainability and learning

Photo by Cecilie Horwitz

Nestled behind Elizabeth Hall at Rollins College, the Rollins Urban Farm is a vibrant and educational hub for sustainability enthusiasts and budding botanists. In a recent interview with Cecilie Horwitz, Environmental Studies major and sustainability coordinator managing the Urban Farm, we delved into the heart of this eco-friendly project to understand its significance and the novel ways it is being integrated into the curriculum.   

One of the noteworthy elements of the Urban Farm is its connection to academic life at Rollins. This semester, the Sustainability Program is partnering with two classes. Dr. Paul Stephenson, Associate Professor of Biology, has been conducting experiments using the farm and hydroponic towers as a lab for his Plant Physiology class. Dr. Stephenson’s Plant Physiology class is actively involved in the farm, with a primary focus on the greenhouse. This engagement brings a fascinating, constructive collaboration between education and practical application. Dr. Stephenson’s class works with hydroponic towers, a unique system for growing plants without soil. The greenhouse serves as the birthplace for many of the farm’s plants.   

The students in Dr. Stephenson’s class take the principles they learn in lectures and apply them in a real-world setting. They work with nutrient solutions for the hydroponic towers, creating and experimenting with the right mixtures to ensure the plants thrive. In addition, the class tackles challenges, such as an aphid infestation, using an experimental approach to find eco-friendly solutions.   

Photo by Cecilie Horwitz

Melissa Nelson, Director of the Social Impact Hub, is teaching Introduction to the Liberal Arts, a general education course required for students in the Professional Advancement Program which carries a community engagement component that includes students volunteering at the farm. With the support and expertise of Zari St. Jean, Bush Science Center Greenhouse Manager, Nelson’s students started the

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