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Excursion to the Kassel Organic Farm

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Inside the New Barn

Today the Organic Agriculture section of the SIA program went with Professor von Fragstein to the University of Kassel’s Organic Farm in Domäne Frankenhausen . The farm is roughly 45 km from Witzenhausen so we started our class during the long ride there, talking about soil pH and nitrogen as we looked out the many farmers fields now planted in winter cover crops.

The school’s farm has over 300 ha of organic production and produces a huge amount of milk, potatoes, geese among other things for market. The farm has both an educational and an economic purpose and meets both. It was cold and raining on the farm, enough so that we had a tough time paying attention all the way through, but we got a general sense for the place.  We saw almost a hundred cows, over 300 geese, huge barns full of giant farm equipment meant to cover many meters at a time, and many busy farm workers. We learned a lot about the distinction between the organic standard and the ‘spirit of organic’ in practice on this large scale organic production. This organic spirit shows through in many of the activities here, for instance the new barns are made with FSC certified wood.

Being on the University’s farm gave us all a reminder about the practical meaning behind all the classroom work we are concentrating on now. All this ‘nose in a book’ time spent memorizing different aspects of the kingdoms of life, the properties of soil and the mathematical questions about sustainability has a purpose. It was also another good reminder that for all the food we eat there is a lot of work going on somewhere – that some of our fellow students are doing some of that work and that the option for getting our hands dirty and having a place to practice is near.

Read the FQH about the Uni-Kassel Organic Farm.

Read Professor von Fragstein’s work: HOLISTIC APPROACHES TO TEACHING OF ORGANIC FARMING THE MODEL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF KASSEL

Organic Eprints from Uni Kassel Farm mostly in German but some offered in English.

History of the Department of Organic Farming and Cropping Systems


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First Week of Studies

Es Regnet (It Rains)

Es Regnet (It Rains)

Hello from a very cold day in the center of Germany. The weather here has been unseasonably cold with a fresh breeze, thick white frost in the mornings and rain in the afternoons. This weather keeps us happily in our warm classrooms and safely away from the distractions of forests and farmland surrounding Witzenhausen and Göttingen.

The first week here in the new Sustainable International Agriculture program was spent half in Göttingen and half in Witzenhausen.

The SIA degree is split in to three major study areas:

Our colorful group of 35 graduate students representing 15 countries (Kenya, Ghana, US, UK, Germany, Turkey, France, South Korea, Japan, China, India, Argentina…) met on Monday in a large classroom where the Göttingen ‘Studienberatung’ Coordinator introduced our group to the weeks work.

We split up for the first half of the week for intensive bridging courses in statistics, plant sciences, soil sciences, ‘Intercultural Communication’ and other introductions to the various Göttingen systems. Millions of forms had to be filled out to establish our status as students.

Finally most of us went to the ‘Global Thinking Local Responsibility‘ conference here in Witzenhausen which I believe they are planning to have again next year as part of the intro to SIA students.

The week ended with a long potluck dinner and then dancing all night at ‘The Club’ on the Witzenhasen Campus.

There is a general mixed feeling of tiredness, excitement for getting to know each-other and the program and preparedness for the work ahead for all of us.

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