Monday 23-03-2015 - 15:12
Do you grow food on your campus yet? If not, why not? At the Student Sustainability Summit – food activist Pam Warhurst explains how it can have a huge impact on community, education and enterprise.
“We need to make better uses of the spaces in our neighbourhoods as well as the land around our towns and cities”, Pam tells us.
“And we need to do what we can to support local producers so we can build stronger, local economies and really useful jobs"
We completely agree. In the northern market town of Todmodern – between Leeds and Manchester – Pam led a movement which built food resilience into their very landscape.
Just by holding a public meeting and getting food growing on street corners, outside public buildings and even across the cemetery, they’ve turned the town into a world leading example of community organising, creating huge new opportunities for education and employment.
More and more students’ unions are doing exactly the same thing. At the University of Roehampton Students’ Union, they’ve planted food right across the campus, and use it to make the meals in their campus cafe. With the help of our programme Student Eats, dozens more are taking action with food too.
It’s more than just reconnecting with nature and doing a good thing with your spare time. It can also be the start of lifelong engagement with sustainability.
In one sense, Pam doesn’t consider food growing to be political. “It’s a sad day when feeding your family and sharing food with your neighbours becomes a political act”, she says.
“Let's not get bogged down with political theories. Let's just put actions around local food at the heart of how we live”
We agree that growing food shouldn’t be led by ideology. But just because something isn’t party political doesn’t’ mean it’s not a political act. You only have to see how many people have been driven to food banks in recent years to see how local action can be part of a more positive future.
Building resilient communities, providing access to healthy produce, strengthening local economies, enhancing educational and employment opportunities, and protecting food sovereignty. All of this starts with growing food.
We all want to engage our students, but we also know that divisionary politics and party factions can turn a lot of people off getting involved. Food cuts through all that. It can engage your students with their union for the first time, and it takes action on our core sustainability problems from climate change to neoliberal economics.
As Pam says, “None of this is rocket science. We just need to stop talking and start doing”.
We can help you start growing on your campus with our programme Student Eats. Find out how to get started for the year ahead or email us to talk about it more.