Agronomy and Horticulture, Department of


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Dankbar, H., Zimmerman, E., Chennault, C., Basche, A., Nester, J., Pierre, M., Roesch-McNally, G. 2017. Lettuce learn: Student reflections on building and sustaining a community donation garden. The Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis 6(3): 71-85.


This article emerged from conversations that we and fellow graduate students have had in building a community donation garden. We created the garden with a vision of enacting food justice in our community, but over the past four years we have experienced complexities with our vision. In this article, we share the complexities with which we have wrestled, how we have encouraged thoughtful dialogue among fellow scholars about these shortcomings and the intricate workings of the agrifood system, and the lessons we have learned through these experiences as early-career scholar-activists. This article represents our collective and individual voices as graduate student garden leaders reflecting on: (a) the ways in which we strived to integrate social justice into our local emergency food system; (b) the paradox of industrial commodity-oriented production agriculture designed to “feed the world,” which neglects the production of healthy food that is locally produced and locally accessible; and (c) the holistic learning approach of combining academic studies with praxis. As students cycle through the graduate program, the garden and partnerships continue, and students take the lessons that they learn through this engagement into their careers and other activities.