The IHCC Centerville campus had 120 graduates this year, Starcevich said, with 110 participating in the graduation ceremony.
“The dedicated faculty and staff optimistically continue to look forward to meeting out community needs and exceeding their expectations in the future,” Starcevich said.
Kaster, in his ninth year with the sustainable ag program, presented several Powerpoint slides showing the next step the IHCC Centerville campus is going to take toward a new food production and processing complex.
The new complex is being funded by a $500,000 gift from Morgan E. Cline and will be called the Morgan E. Cline School of Sustainable Agriculture.
Kaster said a 1/2 acre passive ventilation solar greenhouse and complex will be built with plans to develop three-five acres of land around campus for outdoor growing. The greenhouse-complex will include a learning center, welcome space, classrooms, offices and processing center for food distribution.
The plan is to grow vegetables in soil, like tomatoes, and then provide the food for the college’s dining services and other end users like surrounding businesses with a need for locally grown food.
The creation of a sustainable greenhouse production business will supplement current and future IHCC sustainable ag students with a more diverse list of agronomy courses to choose from, Kaster said, predicting the program will garner local, state, national and possibly world interest.
“And all of the education that comes out of this facility will be geared around the local foods model, food production, agronomy, soils,” Kaster said. “It’s going to impact a lot of different areas. Both our students here at the college as well as the community.”
Kaster said the IHCC Ottumwa campus dining service spends approximately $90,000 per year on produce.