"Farming to the Rempels isn't just a job - it's a way of life!" That was one student's comment, Cheltze Booker, attending a luncheon put on by her class at the Lucy Cuddy Center late this fall. Professor Shannon Gramse's Smart Start class had a CCEL minigrant this semester to address critical community needs for local food in the rich subsistence culture in Alaska and to inform others about the benefits of locally produced foods. Their activities culminated in a luncheon that involved UAA's Culinary Arts, Hospitality & Restaurant Management, Dietetics & Nutrition, and the Rempel Family Farm.
Following a hearty lunch that used some of the vegetables from the Rempel farm, students from the class came to the microphone to talk about what they had learned from the readings, their work on the farm through class trips, and the class discussions to incorporate their experiences and the academic reading. Voa Totua spoke about how much food she realized there is in the land of Alaska and how much we can do for ourselves - without relying on industrial food. Becca Arman spoke about the term she learned through reading Michael Pollen - "industrial organic - a fake kind of fresh!" For Arlene Ferrer, the learning that stood out was how government politics have controlled farmers' plans and how the plans are carried out for farming. And Chris Hess empathized with farmers who, having been brough up in a farming way of life, are forced to cash out. Hess shared, "It was an amazing experience to see former farmland that had been turned into suburbs . . . an eye-opener to see the impact . . . not that growth and development isn't important, but just because we can, doesn't mean that we should.
The Rempels attended with their four children, all of whom are home-schooled. Professor Gramse will be presenting his work with the Smart Start class as a part of our informal Faculty Breakfast Colloquia in the spring.