In 2013, the U-M Sustainable Food Program and its member groups helped integrate sustainable food topics into academics, created hands-on learning opportunities at three on-campus gardens and the Campus Farm, and provided food to students and community members.
In its recently released 2013 annual report, program highlights include a sample of class collaborations, resulting in 38 sustainable food-related projects completed, and a list of presentations given and conferences attended.
Landscape architecture students in the School of Natural Resources and Environment created site plans for the Campus Farm that incorporated outdoor classroom space, community gathering areas, and creative food production plots that reflected the visions of students running the Campus Farm.
Two SNRE Master’s Project groups presented their work with the Sustainable Food Program and the Campus Farm in classrooms and at conferences, including the annual conference of The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
Since the program’s beginning as an SNRE Master’s Project, graduate students have been instrumental in maintaining and growing the Sustainable Food Program and its 10 member groups. The program’s leadership team currently is made up of four SNRE masters students who play a unique role in both working side-by-side with, and acting as mentors for, the four undergraduates on the team.
Graduate students from SNRE, the School of Public Health, the Stamps School of Art and Design and the College of Engineering lead student member groups working on everything from beekeeping to nutrition education.
Since students are constantly transitioning in and out of roles within the Sustainable Food Program and member groups, the first SNRE Master’s Project team secured funding and support to hire Emily Canosa as the first part-time program manager. She was hired in December and serves as support for the leadership team, as she works to cultivate relationships among faculty, staff, and community members.
According to the report, fresh produce grown by students at the Ginsberg Center, SPH, Outdoor Adventures, and the Campus Farm at Matthaei Botanical Gardens made its way to the homes of hungry student volunteers, to Food Gatherers and even to South Manitou Island on a backpacking trip in northern Michigan.
Two member groups joined forces to allow for the first sale of Campus Farm produce through the Student Food Co. Campus Farm produce was also sold for the first time at MFarmers Markets in the fall. Several groups currently are expanding their work with grants from the Planet Blue Student Innovation Fund.
These student groups are evidence of a growing interest in sustainable food around campus.
“UMSFP has opened the door to opportunity in sustainable food for me, both at the University of Michigan and in the local food scene,” says Rachael Gingerich, a Program in the Environment senior and member of the UMSFP Leadership Team.
“Experiences with member groups like Friends of the Campus Farm, UMBees, and the Michigan Sustainable Foods Initiative helped guide me towards receiving a full-time farm apprenticeship this upcoming season. UMSFP is truly a supportive community of students who want to change the food system in creative ways.”