At a time when college costs continue to climb considerably faster than general inflation and more students are facing food insecurity, tying food security to sustainability can show students the importance of measures meant to improve our ecological footprint. For students from underrepresented populations (POC, low income, first-generation, e.g.), a focus on sustainability can seem irrelevant to their life or overwhelming when they have more immediately pressing concerns. I’ll be highlighting efforts to ‘close the loop’ in small scale food production systems with composting, seed saving, recycling, and permaculture techniques while also providing food and educational and internship opportunities to students who might have more difficulty than their peers in accessing those things. I’ll frame this in what is essentially a cradle to grave approach to agriculture, with additional discussion of resiliency from a social perspective- caring for the environment as we care for our community. This model of building multiple overlapping networks to address related issues helps students to practice critical thinking and problem-solving skills in an arena that is specifically and explicitly designed to tie human well-being to the well-being of the planet in a way that is non-threatening and empowering, instead of overwhelming and alienating.

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