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Program Design & Delivery

Seattle Central Community College Embraces Farm to Table Sustainable Agriculture

Cultivating sustainable agriculture and cooking—economically producing healthy food that does not harm the environment—is an increasingly viable job creation strategy across the country. At Seattle Central Community College (SCCC), the Seattle Culinary Academy—one of the oldest in the country—has been vital to building the city’s sustainable foods industry.

For 60 years the academy has trained chefs and hospitality workers in a city with a bustling restaurant scene and increasing demand for organic, locally produced food. It’s now one of the nation’s first culinary academies to offer formal sustainability courses and infuse sustainable food system principles throughout its entire curriculum.
The academy’s mission statement, revised in 2005, says it all: “It is our responsibility to teach environmental awareness and make sure that our students understand their responsibility for the health of the planet for future generations. We want them to know that they could indeed make a difference.”

Programs and Partners

SCCC’s fulltime Culinary Arts program, accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Institute, is a six-quarter certificate or seven-quarter A.A.S. degree course. Students are required to take a series of three one-credit courses: Sustainable Food Systems Practices I and II introduce students to the current ecological, economic, and political issues relating to the food system from producer to consumer. In the third course, students gain a deeper understanding of how climate change affects globalization, politics, and food security and apply this knowledge to purchasing and cooking food. Students also learn from real-life experiences. During a required summer term, they farm an acre of land or attend a weeklong training at the Quillisascut Farm School to practice gardening, composting, and livestock care.

In recognition of the program and its instructors, faculty chefs Karen Jurgenson and Greg Atkinson were nominated as 2010 national finalists for the Chefs Collaborative Sustainability Award, which recognizes exemplary leadership in fostering sustainable food systems.

Tying Training to Regional Geography

As a major metro area within the Puget Sound bioregion, Seattle provides an ideal setting for examining the entire spectrum of food production and consumption. SCCC is taking full advantage of this location through a close partnership between its Culinary Academy and a new Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAgE) program—a National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education center that will develop associate degrees and short-term certification programs in sustainable agriculture. Students in this joint program will work together in SCCC’s urban greenhouse, growing herbs for use by on-campus dining halls, saving SCCC about $4,000 a year.

With full enrollment and long waiting lists every year, the Seattle Culinary Academy is in high demand. To learn more about this innovative program, please follow the links and contact below:

Linda Pal Chauncey, Associate Dean, Seattle Central Community College
This resource made possible with the generous support from the Kresge Foundation