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. This training is carried out on the property of Valley Farm, which serves as a demonstration area offering a variety of agricultural and animal husbandry training areas. In their effort to provide students with a tool case to holistically serve people, the SCD Department and Valley Farm have been graciously awarded $10,000 from the John and Mary Franklin Foundation

Today our global population of 7.6 billion people is growing rapidly. If urbanization trends continue, people living in urban centers will be looking for solutions that will include local food options. The poor and not-so-poor living in congested urban centers often are challenged to have the proper nutrition that fresh vegetables can provide. However, with knowledge of urban gardening, people living in Philippine squatter areas and Brazilian favelas as well as concrete skyrises of Bangkok and Atlanta can grow fresh vegetables for themselves.

There is a large concrete slab on Valley Farm that housed a large maintenance building at TFC. The building was destroyed by a deadly flood in 1977 and today the concrete slab is all that remains. A portion of the funds received will go towards turning this concrete slab into a training area for urban gardening. This spot is large enough to provide a variety of demonstration areas for the students to learn, such as growing plants in a garden of aluminum cans or socks filled with dirt. The need is great for trained men and women to be able to go into these centers, develop relationships, and help people in ways that will not make them dependent on those providing the training. The faculty and staff of the SCD program and Valley Farm desire to be able to offer such training.

The second project that this grant will help fund is the finalization and implementation of our aquaponics system. This newer method of agriculture is appropriate to an urban setting and, when done correctly, is incredibly sustainable. Through the process of aquaponics students will learn a wide variety of skills such as welding and wood working. Students will also be measuring, cutting, and piecing together PVC piping and learning the essential components to building an operational bell siphon. In addition to these practical skill sets students will learn how to research and locally source materials.

Finally, the SCD program will also be adding a refrigeration/cooling unit. Growing vegetables in urban gardens or in aquaponic environments is a wonderful way to provide produce, including fish, to aid in the nutritional well-being of families. The SCD major emphasizes sustainability, however in the past they have had no efficient way to preserve a significant quantity of food for any length of time beyond harvest. Student training will expand to include freezing, canning, drying, and general cooking, as well as storing and curing meat.

Toccoa Falls College is incredibly proud of our Sustainable Community Development program, and we are excited to watch it continue to flourish in the years to come. To learn even more about our Sustainable Community Development degree, check out