Student Frankie Romero learning about sustainable farming and design.jpg

Gavilan College Computer Graphics & Design (CGD) students learned first-hand about sustainable farming practices by visiting the Comstock Community Farm (CCF) in Hollister, CA. CCF is a non-profit farm that is also home to three generations of the Salinas family who maintain the five acre community resource. Members of the Salinas family gave students a tour of the homethey built from reclaimed materials in the 1980s, shared fresh onions pulled from the fields, explained their hydroponic lettuce system, described benefits of using drip irrigation for watering, identified many types of fruit and nut trees in their orchards, and helped students find and pick the best greens near their nesting chickens to feed horses from the adjacent farm land.

Gavilan College CGD students are developing real-world technical skills by utilizing CCF’s location to design two sets of distinct projects. CGD Students already visited the farm on-line via Google Earth. They are currently using ArchiCAD, a building information modeling (BIM) software utilized by architects to design and develop a data rich 3D model that will be used to create architectural plans for a 1,200 square foot guest home. Highest performing students from the class will also have the option to design an outdoor educational facility for CCF. Both projects will produce 2D electronic drawings of plans, elevations, and sections along with 3D virtual models to explain these proposed projects.

The outdoor educational facility project will aid staff at CCF to better accommodate the families and students who take fieldtrips to the farm to learn about sustainable food systems and healthy eating. Instructor Colette Marie McLaughlin noted that the trip to CCF also reinforced principles students have learned from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a green building program that aims to lower operating costs, reduce waste sent to landfills, conserve energy and water, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide healthier/safer living spaces. For example, CCF refrains from using any pesticides or insecticides on the property, which reduces health risks; uses drip irrigation hoses to reduce water wastage; and utilizes recycled building materials, such as those that were used to build the house and other structures on the property.

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