I was thrilled to see Saint Cloud State University’s Community Garden made headlines as the best community garden in the state of Minnesota (as voted by WCCO readers) — I could not agree with you more! As a former student at SCSU, I completed my senior level course work focusing on the sociological and political aspects of food. In addition to our typical classroom course work (extensive reading, research, and writing), we also had the incredible opportunity to participate in gardening and harvesting the community garden space developed by our Professor, Tracey Ore. Professor Ore organized this initiative ten years ago, and like the produce harvested through the summer and into the fall, it has grown and connected St. Cloud residents (students and non-students) to each other and their food.
Similar to the goals of our course work, the community garden set out to expand the campus and community’s knowledge surrounding sustainability, organic practices, food preparation, and cultural food varieties. The initiative in and of itself is a direct commitment to local food security in the community. Not only did the garden address issues of abandoned and unused properties on campus, it also created a strong sense of community focused on education and enrichment not limited to the students on campus. This sense of community has built a strong connection between students, St. Cloud residents, and the land they are cultivating (together).
Efforts focusing on providing adequate, stable, and accessible food opportunities are essential in creating communities with food secure individuals and families. While it is an exciting honor to receive public recognition as the best community garden in the state, it is also important to remember the significant impact this open-access community garden concept holds for members experiencing food insecurity.
For more information regarding food security and community food assessments, view this 2007 Proposal developed by Professor Ore’s students regarding the necessity for a Community Food Assessment and the benefits of a Food Security Charter. I am proud to say I was a part of this particular proposal and initiative.
Photos via: St. Cloud State Community Garden