On Saturday, December 11, students in Antioch University New England’s MBA in Sustainability program (Green MBA) presented potential solutions for the sustainable future of Cheshire County Farm to county stakeholders. Among the numerous officials on campus for the event were Cheshire County administrator Jack Wozmak, County commissioner Roger Zerba, farm manager David R. Putnam, and representatives of the Cheshire County Extension, Cheshire County Farm and the Monadnock Conservancy.
County officials have been weighing the future of the historic 650-acre farm since the adjacent correctional facility was closed and a new jail constructed in Keene. Although the dairy farm still operates, inmate labor is no longer available on-site, and stakeholders need to develop a long term, financially sound plan for the property.
Sixteen students undertook the project as part of the MBA’s Earth Systems in Organizations coursework. They were challenged to identify ways to protect the farm’s valuable resources while reducing the tax burden on county residents. Working in four-member teams, they arrived at such innovative solutions as land leasing, commercial hop farming, and initiating an educational institute for sustainable food systems. Each team delivered a forty-five-minute presentation to stakeholders followed by a question and answer session.
“This is another example of AUNE students studying theory and having the opportunity to apply it in a consulting role while further developing their business skills,” said Polly Chandler, director of the MBA in Sustainability program.
“These presentations are potentially very beneficial to the county, which has been wrestling with the future of the farm for some time now,” she said. “The students have fresh perspectives on the challenge, which hasn’t been solved yet. They’re bringing new ideas which may appeal to residents of the county.”