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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, Communications and Sociology. One of the most popular CBL classes is Health Exercise and Sport Management (HESM) 280. It is a lower level class in which students volunteer for about 3 hours at a nonprofit organization in Racine or Kenosha County that addresses 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 class work in HESM 280 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-over 3,500 pounds of food to date! The garden's achievements have been highlighted in local media, and has attracted much support from the community.
Andrew graduated from UW-Parkside in Spring 2016, but he is still very active on campus as an alumni and a newly elected Kenosha County Supervisor. If you are interested in volunteering with the Garden of Eatin' or in starting your own local garden, contact Amanda DesLauriers at firstname.lastname@example.org.