The Sustainable Community Development (SCD) major, housed within the Global Ministries Department of Toccoa Falls College, trains young men and women with knowledge and skills to holistically serve both local and global communities. Students leave with the ability to evaluate situations and wisely implement appropriate approaches to various situations. They possess the skills to empower people to achieve their goals without compromising their dignity and causing long-term harm. Because we are Christ-followers, our graduates are intentional about living incarnationally. Our hope is that when people see us, they see Christ. We take a holistic approach to community development, by restoring broken relations that people have with themselves, their community, the environment and with God, their creator. Students from our program seek to help communities see their full potential as they love their neighbors and God with all their soul, mind and strength.
Valley Farm provides the “hands on” training to reinforce numerous topics taught in the SCD classes. The farm property is on approximately 7 acres which was partly used as a mobile home park before it was destroyed by a flood in 1977. While the original site was not ideal for farming, it has provided an excellent learning environment to experience creative and diverse sustainable practices which can be transferred to urban or rural areas here in America or across the globe.
Valley Farm has three main areas of emphasis:
Currently, we raise 3 different breeds of milk goats – Nigerian dwarfs, Nubians and Saanens – free-range laying chickens, Cornish Cross meat chickens, and guard animals. Students gain experience in topics such as basic animal care, breeding and holistic pasture management.
There are approximately 25 raised vegetable beds and a community garden for student experimentation. To extend the growing season, we have two 60 foot hoop houses and a greenhouse. We incorporate organic/naturally grown practices, succession planting, crop rotation, and various irrigation techniques. We also grow herbs, blueberries, blackberries, elderberries, grapes, assorted flowers, and apples. We discuss and implement a wide variety of growing techniques.
A key component of the SCD major is the Applied Technology classes. Students are exposed to a wide variety of skills that will help them and others develop the means for sustainable living. On the farm, students have the opportunity to learn skills and technologies such as how to:
- use various small scale agricultural tools (soil preparation tools, seeders, various hand tools etc.)
- raise meat chickens using inexpensive, movable tractors
- build fencing and work with wood
- use aquaponics to raise microgreens and tilapia
- plant an urban pollinator garden on a concrete slab.
Most importantly, Valley Farm seeks to integrate Godly character and discipleship throughout all areas of the farm. The Bible has numerous references to agriculture, and students are encouraged to explore the connections, especially as they relate to the poor. Each semester, students have the opportunity to participate in mentorship groups which teach the principles of Foundations for Farming, and how to use Jesus’ parables to share biblical truths and a Christian view of sustainability.