Block B Classes

Block B is June 2-June 13 and features two classes: Global Health Policy and Practice and Sustainability and Human Needs.

Global Health Policy and Practice (PHS 5184) is taught by Professor Rebecca Dillingham. This class will explore the topic of Global Health and assess how individuals, organizations, and the government became involved in Global Health as well as the ways in which each of these are involved.

Sustainability and Human Needs (STS 3500/SYS 4502) is taught by Professor Garrick Louis. This class focuses on answering the question: What is a sustainable quality of life or standard of living? It will compare consumption in industrialized countries to that of emerging countries. The class will look at sustainability in terms of basic human needs as well the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. The class will also look into the costs of achieving these goals.

Don’t forget sign up for MSI classes starts tomorrow on UVA SIS.

Block A Classes

In Block A (May 19- May 30) Morven will be offering two classes: Farmers Market, Food Politics and Research Methods (PLAP 4500) as well as Agro Ecology (EVSC 4559)

Farmers Market, Food Politics and Research Methods is taught by Professor Paul Friedman and looks into the politics of Food and Food Systems with a main focus on farmers markets. The students will do research into what role farmers markets play in the American Food System as well Local and Federal legislation that effects farmers markets. This class will provide students with the opportunity to intern with the Virginia farmers market.

Agro Ecology is taught by Professor Manual Lerdau. This class will look at different ways of using the ecological theory to improve agriculture. It will integrate the biology of crops into an ecological view of growth and production. The class will look at traditional and modern breeding approaches as well as the roles of economic and sociocultural factors in designing ecologically aware agricultural systems.


Don’t forget to sign up for these classes as well as Block B classes on April 14 and 15 through SIS!!

A Little History of Morven

With registration for summer classes just around the corner here is a little history of Morven that might spark your interest. The land that Morven lays on today was originally given to William Champe Carter in 1730. In 1795 Thomas Jefferson purchased the piece of property for his “adopted son” Colonel William Short. Once purchasing the property Jefferson managed the grounds and constructed the Claim House in 1796. In 1813 Jefferson deeded the property to a man by the name of David Higginbotham. Higginbotham renamed the property “Morven” and constructed the main house that still stands today. Throughout the years Morven changed hands many times before John Kluge purchased the estate. In 2001 Kluge donated Morven to the University of Virginia. The gift consisted of 7,379 acres. The University sold off parts of the estate but still holds 2,913 acres. There are many different projects happening at Morven today, one of which includes the Morven Summer Institute. MSI is a rigorous “May Term” which gives the student unique hands on experience in their field of interest. Registration for The Morven Summer Institute begins April 14 and 15 through SIS!

It’s Day 10…

It’s our final day of the Morven Summer Institute! It’s been an action-packed and fun-filled four weeks. Everyone joined together at the Main House to present their final projects after class wrap-up this morning and a lunch break on the veranda. We were lucky enough to get a gorgeous day and took advantage of the expansive views from the Main House.

All of the final presentations were really interesting and well thought out. The Farmers Market students each chose a farmers market in the region and developed research questions and an implementation plan to collect data for their market research. The Food and Nutrition students chose topics of their interest that relate to the course’s themes. Both classes will be writing papers over the weekend expanding on their presentation topics. Here’s the full list of students’ presentations:

  • Allison Spain – Norton Farmers Market (Southwest Virginia)
  • Whitney Armstrong – Is Organic Really Better?
  • Mark Delpierre – Williamsburg Farmers Market
  • Rachel Locke – Through the Monsanto Lens: Legal Examples and Their Implications
  • Waverly Wood – West Baltimore Farmers Market
  • Cara Linnenkohl – Is Biotechnology more beneficial than Organic Agriculture?
  • Victoria Young – South of the James Market (Richmond, VA)
  • Madison Jones – The Green Revolution: How it has affected meat consumption in the 20th Century
  • James Yu – Charlottesville City Market
  • Paul Ruess – Irrigation: A Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Sydney Shivers – South of the James Market (Richmond, VA)
  • Amber Plair – The E.U. Regulation of GM Food
  • James Gray – Growing the Local Food Sector in Fluvanna County
  • Samantha Taggart – A Sustainable Future for the World’s Fisheries
  • Catherine Martin – Charlottesville City Market
  • Margaret Gelburd – Connecting the Dots Between Agriculture and Chronic Poverty
  • Libby Lyon – Del Ray Farmers Market (Alexandria, VA)
  • Rebecca Hinch – What Would Happen if all the Meat in the U.S. was Organic?
  • Navona Gallegos – The Role of Ruminant Livestock in Future Food Security
  • Yong Shin – White Rice vs. Brown Rice
  • Nancy Tappan – Oregon City Farmers Market

For the past four weeks, Morven has been abuzz with students learning, exploring, researching, and having fun – we’re going to miss them! The second session of MSI was better than we could’ve imagined – we hope you’ll join us next year for MSI 3.0!

The students and professors of Block B.

Day 9: Almost There

It’s the last full day of class for Block B – students can see the light at the end of the tunnel with final projects due tomorrow. It was a beautiful and balmy morning out in the garden, so the Food & Nutrition class took the chance to finish up some research for their presentations.

What a great morning to be out in the garden!

Meanwhile, the Farmers Market class listened to their final guest speaker, Beth Meyer who is a distinguished professor of Landscape Architecture at UVA. Professor Meyer’s graduate studio explored three proposed permanent sites for the Charlottesville City Market and how to create an appealing public space that feels inviting to all demographics. It was very interesting to see both the advantages and disadvantages of each site and how to use a space’s unique characteristics to create a sense of place. You can learn more about Beth’s extensive work here.

Beth Meyer describes her students’ studio projects.

During the lunch hour, we had another special guest out at Morven, but for this guest being here isn’t uncommon as he lives on the property! John Simon, Executive Vice President and Provost of UVA, joined us for a lunchtime chat about his experience living at Morven. Students were excited to share their ideas with the Provost about how Morven can become an integral part of education at the University.

John Simon, Executive Vice President and Provost of UVA

Day 8: Bread and Butter… and Beyond

Martha Stafford, owner of the Charlottesville Cooking School, returned today to lead a cooking workshop and demonstration for Block B. After giving a short talk on the importance of cooking and eating seasonally, Martha led a hands-on workshop in tasting and experimenting with food. Each student got a pat of butter, bread, radish slices, and assorted herbs and seasonings – cilantro, basil, chives, sesame seeds, ginger, yum!

Everyone had fun smelling, tasting, and mixing flavors!

Martha had the group smell and taste each ingredient on its own to help develop the palette. Students then combined their favorite flavors into a compound butter and made mini sandwiches with a simple slice of bread, radish slices, and the butter. What a healthy and delicious snack!

A student shows off his delectable creation.

After the workshop, we headed into the kitchen for a short cooking demonstration. Martha taught us about the simple art of making a French-style omelette and hopefully dispelled some of the fear about getting hands-on in the kitchen. Who knows, perhaps a few more omelettes will be made tonight for dinner by inspired students.

Martha Stafford demonstrates the proper way to beat eggs.

Only one more full day of class! It’s hard to believe how fast two weeks go by.

Day 7: Morven Pastimes

We’re officially starting the countdown to final presentations – only 2 more full days to go! After the morning session, everyone joined together for lunch to hear from our special guest, David J. Wood Jr.

Mr. Wood spent a lot of time at Morven throughout the last century – his aunt was the wife of Whitney Stone who inherited the property from Charles Stone in 1941. He just so happens to be one of our student’s grandfather and he was happy to tell us all about his memories of Morven. We sat in the Meeting Barn which we later found out was called the “Ride and Drive” back in the day as it housed horses and carriages. The Meeting Barn has surely changed but the tradition of naming Morven buildings after their function has apparently lived on. Mr. Wood reminisced about turkey hunting, fishing on a float boat, and riding bareback on an 18 hand horse named Country. He repeatedly called Morven a ‘paradise’ and although it was raining outside, many would likely agree with him. We’ve always heard about the history of Morven but it was even more interesting to hear personal anecdotes from those who have spent time here in the past.

Mr. Wood tells us about Morven’s past.

When asked about his vision for Morven, Mr. Wood was intent on the land being restored to a working farm — a tradition which had been in place at Morven since the 1800’s! Though horses and cattle may no longer grace Morven’s fields, projects like the 1-acre Morven Kitchen Garden are small steps towards reclaiming the deep agricultural history of this unique property.

Generations of the Wood Family: Waverly and her grandfather, David Wood Jr.

In other news, we had even more guest speakers at the Farmers Market class today – we love guest speakers! Richard McCarthy returned today joined by another New Orleanian, Darlene Wolnik. Darlene is the 2012 Board President of the Community Food Security Coalition and an independent researcher and trainer for markets. You can check out her blog, Helping Public Markets Grow, to find out more about her work. We also had Bernadine Prince, the President of the Farmers Market Coalition Board of Directors and the co-director and co-founder of FRESHFARM talk about her work in expanding and operating markets in the Washington, DC area.

Lots of people are coming out to see, experience, and share ideas at Morven – this is what it’s all about!

Day 6: Pushing Through to Week Two

The weather was a delightful 75 degrees and sunny for the start of Week Two for Block B of the Morven Summer Institute, which made for a perfect Monday morning for a “plant walk” at Morven! The students of Professor Lerdau’s course, “Food and Nutrition in a Changing World” were treated to a walk around the grounds with expert horticulturalist and arborist, Lesley Sewell, to learn how to identify native and cultivated varieties of plants in Virginia. Starting with the grandiose White Oaks (Scientific Name: Quercus Alba, as we all learned) that grace the back lawn of the Main House at Morven, the class spent an hour learning about the unique features of dozens of different plants — everything from leaf structure, bark, coloration, foliation, germination… who knew that each and every tree was so full of information, if only you know what to look for!

Lesley Sewell – Land Designer, Arborist, and Assistant Professor in Horticulture – led the plant walk.

Needless to say, it was a very informative morning that made all of us think a little bit more thoughtfully about the trees and plants that we walk by each day at Morven. With the newfound knowledge and tools for identifying these various plants, we can be just a little bit more mindful of our surroundings as week two flies by!

Lesley and the students checking out a Southern Magnolia.

In the Farmers Market class, students shared and analyzed their observations from the City Market with the expert help of a special guest, Richard McCarthy. Richard is the Executive Director of, a non-profit corporation that serves as a mentor for public markets. He was the founding president of the Farmers Market Coalition and a co-founder of the Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans. As Professor Freedman likes to say, Richard’s a “pioneer”.

Together, the class discussed customer behavior, the social capital in markets, issues of the physical space, SNAP usage, and vendor variety. They used photos, video clips, and sound bits taken at the market as a reference – you can check out some of their photos on our flickr page!

Richard McCarthy leads a discussion on market observations.


Day 5: Farmers’ Market!

MSI students were up bright and early today for Charlottesville’s City Market. The Farmers’ Market class arrived at 6:00am to see the market being set up. They’ll be out there until the market closes down to observe vendors, customer behavior, and product variety among other things.

Cecile Gorham and Kathy Kildea of Market Central

The class also had the opportunity to talk with several members of the Board of Directors of Market Central. Cecile Gorham and Kathy Kildea elaborated on the new canning program, the Meet Yer Eats Farm Tour, and how SNAP benefits work at the market.

Yong Shin and Rachel Locke – students of the Food & Nutrition class.

The Food & Nutrition class arrived a little later but were also on the prowl for research. Students will compare produce prices to study competition at the market and are also keeping their eyes out for any bug damage on veggies and fruits as a part of their ongoing pest project.

The market was full of berries, early summer vegetables, cheese, flowers, and our students! Having class on a Saturday isn’t too bad when you’re in such a fun and delicious place.

Day 4: Under the Japanese Maples

During today’s lunch hour, both classes joined together to explore the Japanese Tea House and Garden. Luckily, the rain and storms held off while we toured around outside. Even though it was cloudy, students loved seeing this special part of Morven.

Michelle Rehme tells students about the landscaping of the Japanese Garden.

Students explore the garden.

It’s almost the end of week one! We have a short day of class tomorrow (we know it’s a Saturday but we had Memorial Day off, so this is making up for it). Both classes will be at the Charlottesville City Market tomorrow. The Farmers’ Market class will have an early start at 6:00am and stay all day to do observational research. The Food and Nutrition class will make their way to the market around 7:00am. It’ll be an early bird Saturday!

The Farmers’ Market class welcomed more guest speakers today in preparation for their research projects. Adrianna Vargo, Director of Farm Services and the Educational Farm Manager for the Local Food Hub, and two members of the Have a Stake in the Market team, Natalie Roper and Carla Jones (who is also our Teaching Assistant!) shared their experiences with the class.

The Food and Nutrition class were back in the garden this morning gathering data for their final project. We’ll have photos of their garden adventures next week!

Walking through the bamboo forest.