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Mary Baldwin University’s Alternative Spring Break Yields Food for Thought

Ensuring access to healthy food starts from the ground up. That’s what students at Sullivan Foundation partner school Mary Baldwin University (MBU) learned on this year’s Alternative Spring Break trip to Athens, Georgia.

The trip, which took place March 2-6, was sponsored by the Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement. MBU students were happy to get their hands dirty, helping out at organizations like Ugarden, the University of Georgia’s (UGA) student community farm, where they built raised plant beds and learned crop-protection techniques, and Grow It Know It, a trailblazing program connecting Athens’ middle schools to farms, where they harvested and cleared kale plants, turned compost, fed goats, and helped children make bread, all located right at the local school.

“I definitely saw our students process how gardening and growing food fits into the big picture of addressing climate change, food insecurity and sustainability,” said Robert Clemmer, MBU admissions counselor, who has a passion for food sustainability and helped organize the trip with the Spencer Center. “Students saw some of the most fortunate areas of Athens, but through the organizations we worked with, they were able to see how groups in the area are addressing issues in less fortunate communities.

Photo courtesy of Mary Baldwin University

They also visited UGA’s Botanical Garden, a living laboratory for learning about plants and nature, and the Athens Community Council on Aging, which maintains a garden behind their facility for growing and sharing produce with their community.

But the best part?

“I enjoyed eating fresh greens from straight from the ground, and the relief in knowing that fresh food can still be grown without harmful chemicals to keep the pests away,” said Jessica Hall, a Class of ’20 student who went on the trip.

This article originally was published on the Mary Baldwin University website.