Jane Koopman '10 (Geology/Environmental Studies) is working on an analysis using GIS to identify areas of opportunity for agricultural preservation. By combining information on existing farms, soil types, currently preserved lands, and land uses as part of the analysis, she is helping local land trusts and state agencies work more effectively with farmers who want to explore options for conserving their farmland for future generations.
"I have not only furthered my GIS skills, but learned about various types of conservation, as well as small town government and infrastructure. Farmland conservation and support of local agriculture are themes I believe in firmly and I am pleased to be able to support these matters by contributing spatial analysis to local towns. The community response has been fantastically positive."
Maina Handmaker '11 combined her majors (Visual Arts and Environmental Studies) with her passion for local foods to explore the feasibility of establishing a year-round farmer's market in the region. As part of her independent study project, she organized a community forum to talk about the potential of a permanent farmer's market. These conversations and many others she has held with community members have helped to inform her research project.
"Working on this project has made me feel so connected to the Brunswick community. I feel lucky to be learning from farmers, organizers, teachers, conscious eaters and committed community This project is my way to imagine what a community food system can really mean - a chance to learn together, grow together, eat together. The people I have gotten to know during this project keep me going, towards reconnecting more of Brunswick with the agricultural heartbeat of this community."
Jeff Bush '10 (Geology/Environmental Studies) is working on an Honors Project to help raise awareness of carbon markets as a viable opportunity for Maine farmers. His field work has involved taking soil samples from over 26 farms in the midcoast area and analyzing it for TOC (total organic carbon). By correlating this data with farming practices on these farms, he hopes to help provide important information on how changes in practices such as tillage might affect carbon uptake. The project was inspired by research he conducted on carbon offsets while studying abroad in Madagascar.
Spencer Nietmann ‘11 (Biology/Environmental Studies) has been interested in how market development plays a key role in sustaining Maine's agriculture. His independent research project examines the social and economic factors that make farmer's markets successful. By looking at case studies of successful farmer's markets, he hopes to understand how these models both help provide support for local agriculture as well as address issues of food justice and food security.