Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Stand For Food

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 29, 2013

From the notes attached to this video by Stand For Food:

The Sustainable Food Production (SFP) Program at the Fergus Falls campus of Minnesota State Community & Technical College was launched in fall of 2010 by Dr. Sue Wika, in partnership with Dr. Tom Prieve and other program instructors. During the summer of 2012 the college withdrew support for an SFP construction project to build a sustainable greenhouse on the campus grounds. College administration told program director Wika that despite previous support for the project, the administration was no longer prioritizing sustainability in the college mission, and the project would be shut down. In October of 2012 program director Wika received a telephone call from Senior Dean of Academic Affairs, Dr. Gary Henrickson, informing her that the program was being placed on suspension. She received no other warning in advance and no one from the SFP Program was included in the decision making process. According to Dr. Wika, this does not reflect typical college procedure for program suspensions.

In the negotiations and communications that followed, through the end of 2012 and the first half of 2013, the administration changed their position several times. Dr. Wika was told on various occasions that financial strains, low enrollment, and lack of high-profile partnerships were holding back the college’s support for the program. At one point during meetings administration admitted the program was, in fact, fairly low cost. In the last year Dr. Wika has presented the administration with funding proposals and partnerships, including a partnership offered by the University of Minnesota, but reinstatement of the program has been continually refused. At one point earlier this year members of administration expressed that they were unconvinced of the the legitimacy of the program, and that if the program could be made more “normal,” it may be possible to resume negotiations. The program’s enrollment rates are low in comparison to other M-State programs: it had 11 students enrolled the first two years, and six in the past academic year. Dr. Wika says that the program has been offered limited opportunity to advertise, and that the word of the program was traveling slowly, “by the whisper campaign.” During negotiations with M State she informed administration that at the time of the suspension she was receiving more contact from prospective students than she ever had in the past.

Community members including local farmers and previous students have expressed deep disappointment at the suspension of the SFP program. A change.org petition was organized late last year in an attempt to stimulate the reinstatement of the program, and a number of community members wrote letters to M State administrators in support of Dr. Wika and her colleagues.

This video was filmed at the end of March 2013. M State administrators have been contacted for comment. Though they have responded and expressed a willingness to communicate, the producer has yet been unable to secure telephone contact for an interview. This video and description will be updated in the case that comment is received or new footage is taken.

See the links below for more information on the SFP Program and story:

M State: http://www.minnesota.edu/
SFP Program blog: http://standforfood.com/
SFP Program Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StandForFood
SFP Program Twitter: https://twitter.com/Stand4Food

M State SFP Program page: http://www.minnesota.edu/programs_maj…

AgriNews article on SFP Program (Feb 2013): http://www.agrinews.com/mstate/suspen…

Mint Press article including SFP Program suspension:
http://www.mintpress.net/sustainable-…

Change.org Petition:
http://www.change.org/petitions/m-sta…

Healthy Eating Network forum, informing members of the suspension and directing letters to M State admin:
http://www.healthyeatingmn.org/group/…

Fergus Falls Journal article on SFP Program’s recognition within the community (Aug 2011): http://www.fergusfallsjournal.com/201…

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