Situated Research – Current Students and their Projects
“What I stand for is what I stand on.”
– Wendell Berry
By situating the research process in your own farm, field, community or local project you ensure a close unfolding between the study and application of your research theme and aim.
We have designed the course so that you can work and study concurrently. This approach brings great benefits, and some challenges. By working and studying at the same time your learning will remain contextualized in your everyday tasks, relationships and encounters. The experiences in the working day will touch on the readings you are doing and the assignments you are writing.
A challenge to this approach is that you will need to develop good time management skills in order to keep up with the course work. You are supported in this by the faculty, by colleagues and by the regular postings of course work (usually in two or three week intervals) that generate a study rhythm.
Workademia and situated research provide a context for individual initiative to be grounded in practice, in touch with the day-to-day life of the researcher and to place existing projects or initiatives in a process of enquiry, reflection and communication to others.
Current Students write:
Steffen Schneider, Hawthorne Valley, New York, USA
Steffen Schneider lives in Hawthorne Valley, Ghent, New York. He is an experienced biodynamic farmer and co-founder of the Institute for Mindful Agriculture.
“I am enjoying the Crossfields Agroecology Masters very much. The delivery and the content so far have been excellent. In a few short months new horizons in my field of work have opened up. I am beginning to see new and exciting relationships and connections in many areas of agriculture generally and in Biodynamics specifically. I am beginning to get a better feel for scientific rigor, which feels good. And lastly on a personal note, what’s very inspiring to me is an enhanced ability to see my work and personal biography in a whole new light.”
Jules Bagnoli, Manchester, UK
Jules is founder of ReFarming Ltd., Board Member: Village Greens Community Co-op, Fellow of the RSA, a Food and Drink Adviser and has been Chef Patron of successful restaurants in Manchester, UK.
“It is now several years since I completed my Permaculture Design Course, and even more since I completed my degree. I realized that I wanted the mental challenge of a Masters but was rusty and needed to get up to speed – academically.
I’ve been lucky to find Crossfields Institute. It’s the only Masters on permaculture in the UK. It also treats students as collaborators, valuing and integrating our often conventional working lives.
More than that, it’s giving me the analytical tools to better understand my day jobs as chef, hydroponic grower and sustainable food adviser. I’m researching my interactions with the environment while in action, as a natural scientist.
The course notes on the Masters are written accessibly, opening up complex ideas from GMO to alchemy, ontology to urban farming – I’ve been able to dig under the surface. As students we’re planting seeds, evidencing agroecology’s value in the world, as part of a growing pragmatic, academic research community.”
Chiku Ncozana, Malawi, Africa
Chiku works with June Walker in Malawi on a project around growing the Mexican Milpa in Malawi.
“Our project is about growing crops that complete a balanced diet for a household. Seeing as food security and malnutrition are huge problems in Malawi, the ability to have healthy and adequate food grown on a small piece of land sparks a light of hope for the future. This project is actually based on permaculture principles and also the culture of people within sites of the milpa.
The crops grown include maize, millet, groundnuts, pumpkins and Amaranthus. A Mexican milpa can be very useful in Malawi as only 46% of the citizens live in a 5km radius of any kind of health facility and having medicinal plants might prove useful. A healthy nation is a productive nation. If such a system has the potential of producing almost all essential nutrients farmed from different crops on the same piece of land then malnutrition and availability of food can be issues dealt with.
As part of my BSc in Horticulture I did a project on sweet potatoes. With results from that study some of the sweet potato varieties are deemed suitable to be grown in the Mexican milpa because of their levels of vitamin A and starch content.”