Crop Rotation Planning at the TC3 Farm

This post by Logan about crop rotation planning at the TC3 Farm is the second in our Spring 2016 Sustainable Farming and Food Systems student series. You can find the first post here: – Taylor

The class at the TC3 farm finally came together and started planning where the crops are going this season. Sitting around the class, students started brainstorming on the whiteboard talking out what crop rotation worked best. With some diverse experience, a lot of advice and tips from Todd, there is pretty good start to this season’s crop rotation. The rotation of crops is important to the survival of the plants and there is a lot to be taken into consideration when planning for the season. Pest and disease pressure, nutrient needs and crop families play a key role in the rotation.

crop rotation planning
Working out the crop rotation plan for the TC3 Farm

Keeping in mind the previous year’s crop rotation, the plants are moved from where they were planted last season. This helps the insect and disease pressure by moving the food source, or plants, away from where these pests may have over-wintered in the soil. When the insect pests come up this year the plants they may have been feeding on will be far enough away to help mitigate an early season loss. This rotation will also facilitate the plants nutrient requirements. Some plants require a lot of one nutrient. Using tomatoes as an example they require a large amount of nitrogen from the soil. It takes time for those nutrients to return making it unhealthy for the plants to go back in the same bed. Rotating in a plant, like beans or peas, can fix the low nitrogen in the soil for the following crop.

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Sustainable Food Systems Cartoon

About the Sustainable Food Systems Cartoon: The other day I ran into a Culinary Arts student that I had in my Introduction to the U.S. Food System class last semester. She was in the TC3 Adjunct Office dropping off a political cartoon she had drawn to her Nutrition Professor. She told me that it had been inspired partly by things we had talked about in Food Systems, so I asked to see it. The cartoon is very clever, and very well drawn. It shows a lot of the dedication she has to feeding her family healthy food. In her case, this was necessitated by a number of health problems that she and her children were experiencing that have been greatly improved by particular dietary changes. She gave me permission to present the cartoon here. Without taking away from her creativity, her political views, or her personal experience with food, I just want to make a quick disclaimer that the content of the cartoon should not be confused with the content of my class. The cartoon consists of 8 panels. Click “read more” below to see the whole thing…

Food System Cartoon


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Tompkins County Food Insecurity – Capstone Project

Assessing Food Insecurity in Tompkins County – Sustainable Farming and Food Systems Capstone – Sarah 

After researching food insecurity in Tompkins County for three months, I know so much more than I did when I started out, but I feel like I’ve still only breached the tip of the iceberg. There is so much complexity that goes into the way that people receive help in this area. Even the ways that the words “poverty” and “food insecurity” are defined are complicated.

Loaves and FishesSo here’s a summary of what I found out:

The groups of people who have the highest instance of poverty in this area are families with children under five, specifically female led households, and people of color. In the city of Ithaca, 100% of female led households with children under five live at or below the poverty line according to the Tompkins Community Health Analysis.

The biggest sources of help to impoverished individuals in Tompkins County are the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, and the programs mandated by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The former supports soup kitchens and food pantries across 6 counties and distributes over one million pound of food each year. The latter provides funding for things like school and summer lunch programs, and for WIC (the special supplemental program for Women, Infants, and Children).

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Growing Gourmet Mushrooms Indoors Using Arduino

Growing Gourmet Mushrooms Indoors: The Arduino Grow Chamber – Sustainable Farming and Food Systems Capstone – Aiden

Arduino Picture
This is the Arduino

My project was an exploration into the world of fungus cultivation, specifically indoor production. I worked with a partner and mentor, Jordan E_____, in designing a system that could monitor itself, perform crucial actions automatically, and ultimately provide the fungus growing inside of it with the most ideal conditions for it to thrive. This was achieved with the help of a little microcontroller called Arduino. For those that are unfamiliar with microcontrollers, they can be thought of as a miniature computer that can be programmed to perform a wide variety of tasks. In this case, it interprets input from a temperature and humidity sensor and reacts accordingly, either turning on the heat mat underneath the chamber or turning on the humidifier. Fresh air exchange is achieved through the use of an air pump.

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Edible Rooftop Ithaca: Capstone Project

Capstone Project – Angela: Edible Rooftop, Ithaca

Center Ithaca Rooftop GardenAs a lifelong member of the Ithaca community, I have decided to participate in the sustainable development of our recently remodeled commons area. My contribution is that of an Intensive vegetative green roof design of the Center Ithaca building located in the heart of downtown. Center Ithaca has seen a lot of change in its time and is most recognized for the size and beauty of its Atrium. The plan is to create a proposal that is attractive to the building owner as well as the businesses and residents that occupy the space, by designing a garden that begins on the roof and ends in hanging baskets for people to enjoy inside the building and out, by providing aesthetic beauty, access to fresh foods, and insulation through the winter months.

The most important component of this project was to find a way of installing a green roof as least expensively as possible. Cost is the hurdle that deters those who would have been participants in this movement from doing so. With careful planning and consideration of materials, weight, and accessibility, the lowest price can still be much higher than any. Individual might be able to economically justify, as I learned in this project. However, through donations, grants, and a CSA modeled system, one can find a more reasonable way of managing these finances.

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Long Term Storage Value Added Foods Capstone


Long Term Storage Methods:  The Production of Value-Added Foods

Have you ever had an occasion where you watched your mother or grandmother using long term storage methods to store food from the garden, but never learned how to do it for yourself? 

Puree  Apple Sauce
Puree apple sauce until it is almost smooth

Maybe you already use Long term storage methods for foods and have recipes that were childhood favorites, or were enjoyed by others, and wondered what it would take to make those recipes into a value-added food that could be sold at market?

What is Value-added you ask? Simply it is the process of taking a raw commodity and changing its form to produce a high quality end product.

Food preservation is one of the oldest sciences used by human beings the methods include: drying, smoking, fermentation, pickling, jams and jellies, canning and freezing to name the most common methods. Food preservation has been part of every culture at nearly every stage, and has lent itself to a vast number foods that we consume today.  For many years now, food preservation was becoming a lost art. But do not fret, home food preservation is making a comeback!

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