The University of Massachusetts Amherst has created a vineyard where students can gain firsthand experience in growing grapes.
The school says in a news release that students in the university's Stockbridge School of Agriculture have been planting dozens of cold-tolerant grapes at student-run vineyard.
Growing and tending table and wine grapes will provide hands-on experience for viticulture expert Elsa Petit's courses, “Sustainable Grape Production” and “Grape Biology,” which she believes are the only such classes to be taught at the university level in New England.
Among the half-dozen organic varieties being planted are the familiar Concord table grape, plus both red and white wine grapes, Petit says.
The new vineyard is at the Agricultural Learning Center on the former Wysocki Farm in Amherst. The project received an initial $3,000 grant from the campus’s Sustainability Innovation and Engagement Fund in spring 2017.
Petit has also received a Sustainable Curriculum Initiative award from UMass Libraries to enhance the sustainability aspect of her viticulture courses, and she hopes that grape sales can help to sustain the program in the future.