Students at UW-Parkside have the opportunity to take classes that offer a wide variety of Community-Based Learning (CBL) projects in many disciplines including business, history, applied health science, communication, and sociology. One of the most popular CBL classes is Sport and Fitness Nutrition (HESM 280) in the Health, Exercise Science, and Sport Management Department. Students volunteer for about three hours at an area nonprofit organization that addresses issues related to food security and nutrition. The project provides students a chance to see how many people in these areas do not have access or funds to affordable fresh food and how the community comes together to solve this problem.
One student, however, saw an opportunity for something a little more intensive. Andy Berg, at the time a business student, thought it was wonderful that his fellow students were signing up so enthusiastically to help out the community. As a veteran and father of three, he knew he could do more for the community and wanted to be a strong, positive role model for his children. So Andy and his wife, Mercy, concocted a plan to create their own urban garden in Kenosha. He contacted local politicians in order to receive written support for the garden. In addition, Andy contacted WE Energies to receive permission to use property adjacent to his house as a garden site. Once he received this approval, he solicited garden tools, seeds, and monetary donations from local businesses. Andy incorporated all he learned creating the garden into his HESM 280 class work, and vice versa.
In the three years since the garden was christened the Garden of Eatin', Andy, Mercy, their children and a small group of volunteers have expanded to a second garden. They continue to grow fresh fruits and produce, donating all of the proceeds to local food banks, pantries, and homeless shelters -- more than 3,500 pounds of food to date! The garden's achievements have been highlighted in local media, and have attracted much support from the community.
Andy graduated from UW-Parkside in spring 2016, is still very active on campus and was recently elected to the Kenosha County Board of Supervisors. If you are interested in volunteering with the Garden of Eatin' or in starting your own local garden, contact Amy Garrigan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Amanda DesLauries