Home Volume 2, Issue 3 Critical Reflections on Experiential Learning for Food Justice

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Assistant/Associate Professor in Food Systems (Tenure Track)

 

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Critical Reflections on Experiential Learning for Food Justice

by Leslie Graya,*, Joanna Johnsonb, Nicole Lathamc, Michelle Tangd, and Ann Thomase

http://dx.doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2012.023.014, pp. 137–147

 

Abstract

This essay will reflect on Santa Clara University's (SCU) forays into experiential learning around food justice through the Bronco Urban Gardens (BUG) program. BUG works with urban schools and a community center in San José, California, using a garden-based education approach. This program emerged out of our student garden, The Forge. University student farms and gardens provide opportunities for students to learn how to grow, manage, and market food. At Santa Clara University, our half-acre (0.2 hectare) garden plays that role. However, because of our institution's commitment to social justice and a strong network of community partners, our campus garden has blossomed into a larger food justice outreach program. We will first discuss the motivation behind experiential learning for social justice and reflect on its connection to food justice. We then focus on several observations, challenges, and questions that have emerged out of our BUG experiences. Some of those observations involve the challenge of working with students and community partners where the interests of both groups must be served. We also explore what food justice means in this context, and what it means when a program expands beyond the committed few to an entire student body. By engaging in food justice with low-income communities of color through innovative campus programs such as BUG, our students are likely to see the food system from a very different vantage point than if they stayed on campus, resulting in deep learning experiences and also benefits for communities.

 

Keywords: experiential learning, food justice, garden-based education, university agricultural education, urban agriculture

 

Affiliations 

a,* Corresponding author: Leslie Gray, Executive Director, Environmental Studies Institute, Santa Clara University; 874 Lafayette Street; Santa Clara, California 95053 USA; +1-408-551-7054; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

b Joanna Johnson, Director, Bronco Urban Gardens Program, Environmental Studies Institute; Santa Clara University; Santa Clara, California USA; +1-408-551-3000 x6453; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

c Nicole Latham, AmeriCorps Volunteer, Bronco Urban Gardens Program, Environmental Studies Institute, Santa Clara University; Santa Clara, California USA; +1-408-551-7086; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

d Michelle Tang, AmeriCorps Volunteer, Bronco Urban Gardens Program, Environmental Studies Institute, Santa Clara University; Santa Clara, California USA; +1-408-551-7086; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

e Ann Thomas, Environmental Studies Program, University of California at Santa Cruz; Santa Cruz, California 95064 USA; +1-925-878-1567; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 
 

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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