Sustainable Coffee Orchard Gets a Financial Boost

July 13, 2020

Whittier College staff and faculty planting coffee treeWhittier College has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, which will help propel the growth of the campus’ sustainable coffee orchard and provide research and internship opportunities for students.

The program’s overall objective is to investigate how soil sustainability, plant production, and product quality come together while finding innovative ways to contribute to sustainable agriculture. It will also create a new space for students and faculty to explore issues of agriculture, ecology, the economy, and the environment centered around the theme of coffee.

“The coffee orchard is an outdoor learning lab that engages our students by combining different disciplines through the practice of sustainable agriculture, and is preparing them for the careers of tomorrow,” said President Linda Oubré. “We thank the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations for supporting our faculty and students and helping move the program forward.”

The grant will enable the College to expand its collaboration with the newly emerging California coffee growers agricultural community, including its partnership with Frinj Coffee–an organization at the forefront of promoting and supporting California coffee production. The grant will also help create 10 undergraduate research fellowships and eight internships for Whittier students over the next two years.

“It is a very interdisciplinary grant that will support several departments, most notably business administration and environmental science,” said sal johnston, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty. “The fellowships and internships will also reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the grant's subject matter.”

Interdisciplinary work is a priority at Whittier College, where faculty from different disciplines often co-teach courses to expose students to the many facets of the world around them.

“In addition to opportunities for students, the program will also support research opportunities and module development for faculty interested in relevant aspects of coffee production,” said Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Science Cinzia Fissore, who is the project’s director and faculty lead.


About the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations were organized in 1952 under a living trust established by Arthur Vining Davis. The Foundations bear witness to Davis’ successful corporate leadership acumen and his visionary, entrepreneurial spirit in philanthropy. Since their inception, the Foundations have given over 3,800 grants, totaling more than $300 million, to colleges and universities, hospitals, medical schools, and divinity schools. The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations have promoted the improvement of American private higher education and provided visionary leadership in public television for scientific and historical documentaries, children’s programming, and the distribution of high-quality educational media.

About Whittier College

Founded in 1887, Whittier College is an independent four-year residential liberal arts college that encourages students to question the world around them and figure out their place in it. Located in the heart of Southern California between bustling Los Angeles and beautiful Orange County, Whittier is distinguished by its small size, energetic faculty, and nationally recognized curriculum. With an emphasis on diversity, community, and curricular innovation, the College’s primary mission is to endow students with the education, skills, and values appropriate for global leadership and service.