Stony Brook FoodLab Offers Small-Scale Farming Program & More in 2023

Learn small-scale farming with Stony Brook FoodLab
Learn small-scale farming with Stony Brook FoodLab
Getty Images

The FoodLab at SUNY Stony Brook/Southampton is kicking off 2023 with some exciting new offerings under new Program Director Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz (hired in October of 2022) and Executive Director Geoffrey Drummond, including a brand new, Small-Scale Farming education program starting next week.

As the school and its FoodLab team educate students, they’re also seeking to transform the local food system into one that works for producers, consumers and the environment, and providing the tools for those who want to participate in this transformation.

The FoodLab team believes small-scale farming — farming on smaller parcels of land in a bio-intensive way — is part of their vision to change the world and the way we look at, produce and experience food. “It’s a different type of farming than conventional farming that can lead to higher yields and higher profits, while respecting the environment,” the school explains, adding, “It’s a technique and a practice.”

Students in the program, which costs just shy of $2,000, will learn how to grow bio-intensively, profitably, and responsibly on small acreage with a teacher using J.M. Fortier’s The Market Gardner Masterclass — usually offered as a self-directed online course, with written and video instruction, that can be found at themarketgardener.com for the same price.

Among the benefits of taking this course in-person at Stony Brook, for no additional cost, are the network of other students and an actual live instructor. Farmer Ian Calder-Piedmonte will be on hand to share his experience and insight from years at Balsam Farms, where students will get at least one, possibly two site visits, and enjoy tutorials on how to use the tools of the trade.

Get your hands in the dirt with FoodLab in-person classes
Get your hands in the dirt with FoodLab in-person classesGetty Images

FoodLab Programs in 2023

FoodLab’s Small-Scale Farming program — primarily located at Stony Brook Southampton campus, Chancellors Hall (269 Montauk Highway) — begins next Tuesday, January 17 and classes will follow every Tuesday from 2–4 p.m. or 6–8 p.m. (also available over Zoom) with one week off in February. The optional site visit is scheduled for Tuesday, April 4.

Additionally, FoodLab is offering Sustainable Sprouting, “a dynamic study of seed, soil and plant systems” taught by Jeff Negron, creator and manager of organic vegetable gardens in the Hampton as part of The Growing Seed. Classes will also be held on Tuesdays (starting February 7) from 10 a.m. to noon or Thursdays 2–4 p.m. (starting February 9) at the Stony Brook Southampton campus.

A Hands-on Horticulture program with FoodLab Program Director Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz on campus, will teach participants the science and art of garden cultivation and management. Classes will be held Thursdays from 4–6 p.m. starting February 2. It’s a fantastic intro to growing and gardening!

In conjunction with FoodLab programming, food writer Sylvie Bigar is presenting her food memoir Cassoulet Confessions at one of Almond Restaurant’s Artist and Writers Nights in Bridgehampton on Thursday, February 9.

Finally, for now, a Sea to Soil Symposium is exploring the “sea to soil” movement as FoodLab teaches the ancient ways of enriching the soil with kelp — one of the East End’s fast-growing resources — on Friday, April 21.

FoodLab is welcoming anyone who’d like to assist in their efforts, including volunteering, speaking, doing outreach or joining their advisory council.

As they say at the school, “The excitement is growing, so grow along with FoodLab!”

Visit thefoodlab.org to learn more and register.

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