Critical Reflections on Experiential Learning for Food Justice

  • Leslie Gray Santa Clara University
  • Joanna Johnson Santa Clara University
  • Nicole Latham Santa Clara University
  • Michelle Tang Santa Clara University
  • Ann Thomas University of California, Santa Cruz
Keywords: Experiential Learning, Food Justice, Garden-based Education, University Agricultural Education, Urban Agriculture

Abstract

This essay will reflect on Santa Clara University's (SCU) forays into experiential learning around food justice through the Bronco Urban Gardens (BUG) program. BUG works with urban schools and a community center in San José, California, using a garden-based education approach. This program emerged out of our student garden, The Forge. University student farms and gardens provide opportunities for students to learn how to grow, manage, and market food. At Santa Clara University, our half-acre (0.2 hectare) garden plays that role. However, because of our institution's commitment to social justice and a strong network of community partners, our campus garden has blossomed into a larger food justice outreach program. We will first discuss the motivation behind experiential learning for social justice and reflect on its connection to food justice. We then focus on several observations, challenges, and questions that have emerged out of our BUG experiences. Some of those observations involve the challenge of working with students and community partners where the interests of both groups must be served. We also explore what food justice means in this context, and what it means when a program expands beyond the committed few to an entire student body. By engaging in food justice with low-income communities of color through innovative campus programs such as BUG, our students are likely to see the food system from a very different vantage point than if they stayed on campus, resulting in deep learning experiences and also benefits for communities.

Author Biographies

Leslie Gray, Santa Clara University
Executive Director, Environmental Studies Institute, Santa Clara University.
Joanna Johnson, Santa Clara University
Director, Bronco Urban Gardens Program, Environmental Studies Institute, Santa Clara University.
Nicole Latham, Santa Clara University
AmeriCorps Volunteer, Bronco Urban Gardens Program, Environmental Studies Institute, Santa Clara University.
Michelle Tang, Santa Clara University
AmeriCorps Volunteer, Bronco Urban Gardens Program, Environmental Studies Institute, Santa Clara University.
Ann Thomas, University of California, Santa Cruz
Environmental Studies Program, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Published
2012-06-19
How to Cite
Gray, L., Johnson, J., Latham, N., Tang, M., & Thomas, A. (2012). Critical Reflections on Experiential Learning for Food Justice. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 2(3), 137-147. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2012.023.014
Section
Food Systems and Higher Education Call Papers