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November 18, 2021

Compassionate People at JCCC Motivated Sustainable Agriculture Student to Her Next Career

Sustainable Agriculture student Nina Danner discovered her passion at a young age. “Every summer I would spend time at my grandparents’ home in San Diego on a steep, half-acre lot that they transformed from sandy earth to a living oasis,” she said. “Citrus, fig, nectarine, kumquat and pomegranate trees that my grandfather nurtured, and flowering perennial and annual bushes and flowers my grandmother lovingly cared for.”

Years later as a Paola resident, Nina decided to return to school as a nontraditional student to pursue her love of farming. JCCC’s Sustainable Agriculture certificate was the perfect fit for her.

“Even though I lived next door to JCCC for over 20 years, I had no idea Open Petal Farm existed on campus,” she said.

Fertile Environment for Business and Friends

The campus environment made her feel welcome immediately. “The Sustainable Agriculture instructors, leaders and students have an openness about them that I never experienced while I was a student at a four-year college,” she said. Nina is confident the friendships she developed during classes and while interning on the Farm will last a lifetime.

“Nina was very helpful in boosting our production during 2020, making it possible to deliver more free food to the JCCC pantry and contribute to The Rieger efforts at Crossroads Community Kitchen,” said Rick Mareske, Manager of Open Petal Farm.

Determined to share her passion with other students, Nina helped raise money for Sustainability student scholarships and shared her JCCC experience at the 2021 Harvest Dinner. “It is fantastic the community supports this program. It continues to open doors for so many people who needed a little help,” she said.

Now, Nina has made her dream a reality. Hidden Mesa Farm, named in honor of her grandparents’ place in California, opened in 2020. “I give thanks to my grandparents, my supportive and loving husband and the Sustainable Agriculture program at JCCC,” she said. “The program has given me tools, confidence and courage.”

Find out more a Sustainable Agriculture certificate to start your own farm.