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Growing a student organic garden within the context of university sustainability initiatives

Leslie A. Duram (Department of Geography & Environmental Resources, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, USA)
Laura L. Williams (Ho‘ouluwehi-The Sustainable Living Institute of Kaua‘i, Kauai Community College, Lihue, Hawaii, USA)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 5 January 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the evolution of a student organic garden at a large public university, as an example of student initiatives that promote both university sustainability and student-focused sustainability education on campus.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted quantitative and qualitative analysis to document the evolution of the university’s Local Organic Gardening Initiative of Carbondale (LOGIC), which is the student-initiated and -operated organic garden at Southern Illinois University.

Findings

The student organic garden evolved in three stages, each of which had specific goals and accomplishments. Stage I (establishment): students in Geography courses took action to get the garden established; key components included funds from a sustainability scholarship and student-initiated camps Green Fund, dedicated undergraduate students, negotiating campus bureaucracy and motivating broad support. Stage II (evolution): a high tunnel was added to the original raised beds garden, a graduate assistant position was filled to manage the garden, additional funds were secured, a permaculture demonstration site was added, the volunteer base was established and LOGIC began being included in campus and community events. Stage III (future) challenges include: consistent leadership, long-term funding, guarantee of land availability, student graduation/turnover and increasing student involvement.

Originality/value

This paper provides a longitudinal perspective on the evolution of student-led sustainability efforts which require progressive, inclusive action from multiple stakeholders across campus and in the community. Several replicable practices include student leadership in sustainability initiatives, actions for promoting local food in the university structure and methods of negotiating complex institutional settings.

Keywords

Citation

Duram, L.A. and Williams, L.L. (2015), "Growing a student organic garden within the context of university sustainability initiatives", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 3-15. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-03-2013-0026

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited