Student Writer: Zoe Smolen

ZoeSmolen_DefaultName: Zoe Smolen
Home University: Portland State University
Summer Courses at DIS: Sustainable Food Systems: Ecology, Economy, and Ethics

Now that I’ve entered my third week at DIS, it’s crazy to me to see how fast time has flown. My class spent the last week in Totnes, England, and while it was absolutely wonderful, it made time fly by! We spent more of the week learning about alternative food systems –mostly farms and local initiatives. The whole town, and really all of Devon (the county), is quite supportive of the initiative and there are so many wonderful things going on there. We stayed on a wonderful old estate and ate loads of delicious, organic food. It was also filled with lots of wonderful history.

Above Totnes

TotnesSharpamPulling Plow

The trip to Totnes and Devon was a large help to what we’re studying in class. Since it’s all about food systems, it was really helpful to see them in practice. It’s one of those topics that no matter how hard you study it, you will never have a full grasp on it until you see it in person. Furthremore, we learned a lot about some really interesting food systems. While I don’t plan on going back to Portland and starting a farm, we learned about a lot of practices that could potentially work very well back in the states.

VegetablesOld School Farm

However, I think the most important thing that I have taken out of this trip and from this class is a larger awareness of everything around me. During the trip we went canoeing and hiking in Dartmoor National Park. It was really nice to see how what we were learning was important on a more natural level. A large part of what we do in class is looking about how we think about food, and I think that is something I will really take back with me once I leave. Though it is hard to change your practices, being aware of all of the different parts that go into food production is a good start to making that change – and this class has definitely helped me do that.


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