Oakwood Farms Industry Recovery in Action
We are convinced that God is strategically steering our institution in our industry recovery program.
Many of us remember when Oakwood operated numerous industries, when students could work their way through Oakwood, and our industries taught valuable workplace skills. In speaking to thousands of our alumni and friends annually, virtually everyone says “We need to bring the industries back.” However, our 21st century industries cannot simply be a return to traditional industry because our era has changed drastically.
In 2011, we issued a leadership challenge to our University community: “We will launch plans that are destined to fail, except God intervene.” We undertook the strategic initiative to create a self-sustaining institution. In reducing our dependency on tuition revenue, in faith we set a two-fold operational purpose:
- To create additional revenue streams and reduce dependency on tuition; and
- To develop our students’ academic and workforce skills.
Oakwood Farms is designed to work in concert with the UNCF Career Pathways Grant (CP-GEM) and Healthy Campus 2020. The CP-GEM plan is creating an aligned and comprehensive strategy for facilitating students’ success in matriculation, graduation, and workforce placement. HC2020 seeks to make Oakwood the healthiest campus in America by imparting to our students intentional health management skills purposed to optimize each student’s personal health status.
Oakwood Farms will design programs to support CP-GEM and HC2020 efforts in seeking to help students develop the 21st century career skills, tools, and health habits they will need to thrive and, in so doing, add measurable and significant value to their communities, employers, and our university mission. Alongside our professional farm employees, we plan to engage our students as managerial apprentices and agribusiness interns, and train them in entrepreneurship, and as health and diet educators.
We have asked Ms. Sabrina Cotton, our Vice President for Finance, to coordinate this initiative, and we have already hired Mr. Artis Sydney to lead our effort. Mr. Sydney brings to our operation the skill sets of both a farmer and grocer. Having successfully operated Huntsville’s “Garden Cove” for more than 30 years, God has brought him full circle back to Oakwood, where he began his career as the director of the Grounds Department in the 1980s.
We will set up a “pick and pay” stations, with 10% of all we produce being tithed to the underserved in our Huntsville community. Our first planting of the season will be blueberries. Our first year is an investment year. The plan is to begin making a profit in the second year. The goal is to hire students, and to incorporate a focused academic program. We are specifically linking Oakwood Farms and Student Career Success into a student centered enrichment program . More details will follow in later communication.
More at http://oakwood.edu/news/insideoakwood