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Community Engagement from the Ground Up:
An Interdisciplinary Service-Learning After-School Garden Program
by Shari E. Millera,*, Jung Sun Leeb, and David Berlec
http://dx.doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2012.023.013, pp. 121–135
AbstractThrough the vehicle of community engagement, and with a commitment to ecological sustainability, the University of Georgia has made a series of efforts to support a growing local food movement through education, research, and service. This paper focuses on the development of a comprehensive after-school garden program with direct links to the university via interdisciplinary service-learning mechanisms. The university is located in a county with one of the highest poverty rates in the nation. With a commitment to creating innovative, community-empowered approaches to addressing poverty and related food insecurity, an interdisciplinary group of university faculty, in collaboration with community partners, came together to develop a sustainable after-school garden program. Students from three disciplines (foods and nutrition, horticulture, and social work) are placed in after-school sites to work with elementary school students to establish, support, and grow food gardens. This paper discusses the development process of the program. Anecdotal successes, challenges, and opportunities between, within, and across various systems are explored.
Keywords: community engagement, food insecurity, Higher Education Challenge Grant, interdisciplinary collaboration, local food systems, school gardens, service-learning, sustainability
Banner photos include a Cape Cod cranberry bog; a cranberry “screen house” used to grade fresh cranberries; farmland near Lake Placid, NY, in the Adirondack Mountains; Montmorency cherry trees on the Mission Peninsula of northern Michigan; the historic Round Barn in the South Mountain Apple Belt of Adams County, Pennsylvania; the “Sea of Grapes” district of the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt, near Erie, Penn; a field of cabbages near Shortsville, NY, home to one of the world’s largest sauerkraut factories. All photos copyright by Duncan Hilchey.
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