Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s newly formed food sustainability consortium is bringing together multiple independent initiatives to maximize student impact by better coordinating sustainability access and education.
The consortium is supported, in part, by a $14,224 SIUE Excellence in Undergraduate Education (EUE) grant.
“The food sustainability consortium will dismantle knowledge silos and foster cross-disciplinary collaborations involving both academics and student affairs,” said Connie Frey Spurlock, Ph.D., principal investigator of the EUE grant and associate professor in the
partments of Sociology and Criminal Justice.
Among the consortium’s initiatives is the upcoming SIUE Goshen Farmer’s Market. The community-campus collaboration will bring local vendors to the Stratton Quadrangle on campus from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. every Tuesday in April and in mid-August through October.
“It’s important for students to have access to fresh, local produce and goods,” said Tara Pohlman, manager of the Goshen Market. “Besides local produce, there will be vendors with meat, eggs, flowers, baked goods, honey and soap. Local artists will also feature their creative works.”
Last fall, the Land of Goshen Community Market visited the SIUE campus with great success.
“We had an incredible number of people attend last fall,” said Chad Verbais, assistant director of Supplemental Education/Learning Support Services at SIUE, and chair of the Edwardsville/SIUE Community Destination Committee. “To see this effort flourish is truly remarkable. This collaboration complements the goals of our committee, as we feel this is a wonderful way to bring an important piece of Edwardsville to the campus center.”
Other consortium initiatives include:
Market on Wheels: A collaborative effort between SIUE and the Goshen Market Foundation that provides greater access to affordable, healthy produce in food insecure areas of the region
Rooftop Teaching Garden: A vegetable garden on the patio of the University restaurant, Fixins’, that will be used as a teaching site for courses and that will supply the Market on Wheels
Student Food Pantry: A pantry located in the Morris University Center to help students who may lack access to healthy food
Community Garden: Coordinated by the student organization Natural Connections, students have their own vegetable plots in The Gardens at SIUE Faculty in SIUE Departments of Sociology, English Language and Literature, Historical Studies, Applied Health, Geography, Biological Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Anthropology, and Philosophy are among those whose courses, often containing service learning components, will be strengthened by the consortium.
These academic endeavors, in collaboration with numerous existing service-oriented, extra-curricular programs run through the Kimmel Student Involvement Center, will maximize student and community impact.
“To understand fully the implications of the means that end up on their plates each day, students must learn about biological diversity, urban and rural landscapes, cultural foodways, and the social and nutritional implications of food quality and scarcity,” Frey Spurlock explained. “The work of faculty, staff and students has reached a critical apex wherein to continue to develop, we need this consortium which ensures a continuing set of courses, resources and student support.”
“In its first year, the consortium intends to engage approximately 300 students in high impact community engagement practices,” added Jessica DeSpain, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of English Language and Literature and president of the Goshen Market Foundation. “SIUE’s food sustainability consortium could provide a model for how other cross-disciplinary interests could be organized.”
The consortium will include a coordinator for activities, a sustainable system for sharing project resources, planning of a steady slate of courses integrating these projects into the curriculum, and a food sustainability competency badge to reach new audiences with the innovative food-related work underway at SIUE.
— Goshen Market among local sustainability efforts in Edwardsville —-