Suppers sow inspiration for campus garden

Vegetable garden

A series called “Garden Suppers” launched in January on the Crookston campus of the University of Minnesota that aims to sow inspiration for a campus garden. The IonE-sponsored events, featuring guest speakers and brainstorming activities, seek to engage students, faculty and community members in the project.

Discussions have been underway at UMC for the last year to launch a campus garden that would provide produce to be served in campus food service. The garden might consist of smaller garden boxes or plots around campus and/or a larger plot. In addition, there has been interest in having garden plots around the Crookston community, perhaps in vacant lots where houses have been removed to make way for flood protection efforts.

Brainstorming session“Urban Gardening is growing in popularity in cities across the country, and there is no reason why we can’t have a version of it on the local scene,” said Dan Svedarsky, UMC’s Center for Sustainability director.

The series kick-off on Jan. 23 featured Noelle Hardin, a U of M Extension educator focusing on community food systems. Hardin explored the many values of local foods, such as the advantage of having a garden in the backyard, knowing where our food comes from and community engagement. The Feb. 6 guest speaker was Randel Hanson, whose talk was titled “Anchoring Food Systems Change: The Sustainable Agriculture Project at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.” Hanson, an IonE resident fellow and UMD professor of geography, is the founder and “farmer-in-chief” of SAP, a garden that supplies a substantial portion of food for UMD’s food service. “Suppers” are tentatively planned to occur on a bi-monthly basis, leading up to a “Gardening 101” course taught by University Extension.

Partners in the project include Crookston Students for Sustainable Development, the Crookston Student’s Association and CFS, which received an Institute on the Environment Mini Grant to support the suppers.

For more info on “Garden Suppers,” contact Dan Svedarsky: or follow their blog.

Tashi Gurung is a community program assistant for the UMC Center for Sustainability. Elizabeth Tollefson is the assistant director of communications for U Relations, Crookston.

Images: banner Emily T. Starr, Flickr Creative Commons; brainstorming session by Tashi Gurung