National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Honors in Practice, 2022, Vol. 18: 161–63


© Copyright 2022 by the National Collegiate Honors Council


Amid social distancing restrictions, community gardening becomes a focal point of one honors program. While providing fresh produce to the campus food pantry, this student-run initiative generates a new setting for experiential and service learning.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, honors programs across the U.S. struggled to maintain community as higher education moved largely to a virtual setting. Although this shift produced numerous innovations in creative programming, real social interaction greatly diminished. For young adults, social interaction is especially crucial to intellectual and social development, and with community as a key pillar of honors education, compensating for this loss quickly became one of the greatest challenges of the pandemic. As a regional university in Texas struggled to find creative ways to maintain its community, an unexpected development occurred. For their senior project, two nursing students, struck by the concept of food deserts, proposed the creation of a community garden that would provide fresh produce for the campus food pantry. By contributing a campus-wide service component, this initiative expanded on the work of Lund and Orth (2010) and Wallace (2016), described previously in Honors in Practice, who found gardening projects to be powerful examples of experiential learning about environmental ethics and community.