View of Canandaigua Lake from nearby farm.

Sustainable Agriculture Development Project

The Sustainable Agriculture Development Project researches and analyzes locally sourced, sustainable food systems in order to promote economic growth and food security within the Finger Lakes region. Supporting local food systems such as farms, Community Supported Agriculture (C.S.A.) programs, community gardens, and farmer’s markets benefits communities by strengthening the local economy, providing job opportunities, and reducing environmental impact due to cutbacks in transportation. It is the project’s goal to identify local food systems, investigate the regional infrastructure needed to support these systems, and compile a network of local food sources accessible to the public.

HWS Reader’s College
FLI staff Dr. Lisa Cleckner, Sarah Meyer, and Adam Maurer offered HWS Reader’s College Eating Local: It’s Meaning and Action in the fall of 2012. Agriculture and the food processing industry are two of the most significant economic drivers within the Finger Lakes region. Even so, those people that live in the region find it challenging to access local food and justify its use. When asked why eating local is so difficult to incorporate into our daily lives, responses often reference lack of time, convenience and know-how. What was once a time for friends and family to gather and share, meal time has diminished to visits to drive-through windows. This course studies locavorism and sense of place while reading and discussing Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, and Miracle – A Year of Food Life, a memoir of her family’s journey connecting with the land and local community by deliberately eating food produced locally. Her story raises questions as to what it means to eat local, but is also a call to action and requires reflection on personal values. In addition to the reading, course registrants may participate in local field trips to local businesses and places that attempt to capture what it means to eat, live, and act locally.

Campus Garden
The Sustainable Foods Club, founded by Derek Weiss ‘12 in the spring of 2012, created the campus garden as a small-scale permaculture site that provides students with the opportunity to grow food throughout the school year, become familiarized with permaculture methods, and develop a passion for gardening. It serves as a community garden, encouraging all students to lend a hand in the planting, caretaking, and harvesting of garden produce. To enable a longer growing season, the garden contains cold frames (miniature greenhouses). Each cold frame uses a translucent top, angled towards the south to maximize the capture of solar radiation throughout the day.

Permaculture Gardening Method
Permaculture uses a holistic approach to gardening modeled directly from natural ecosystems. As opposed to the conventional gardening method of grouping plant families separately, permaculture places plant families in the same bed to enhance nutrient cycles and increase biodiversity. Any fallen or unpicked produce is left in the soil to compost, and there is no tilling of the soil since all plants are perennial or self-seeding. Due to the self-reproducing system, permaculture sites lack a defined crop, however their creation of a healthier system increases the net yield of all crops.

The campus garden—located near the first-year parking lot.

2012 Garden Produce:

  • Basil
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Chickpeas
  • Cilantro
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Swiss Chard
  • Thyme
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon


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Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.