Imagine a leafy vegetable garden speckled with carrots tops and bean sprouts, maintained by students and faculty who transfer the produce from the college farm to the cafeteria line. This is a scene that the Just Food Collective (JFC) is striving to make reality at K this year.
“Our primary goal is to establish on-campus farming. In order to get local and just food to campus we’ve looked at other colleges, and the only way to do it is to grow our own food,” said Mimi Strauss, K’17, the Civic Engagement Scholar for the JFC.
Even as a small, private school K has too large a population to rely on local farms for fresh produce, and as such the JFC is working on a proposal to build and maintain a hoop house on the IM field near Crissey and Severn Halls.
The Just Food Collective is a reimagined version of the Farms to K group, which disbanded last Fall and Winter quarters, and then regrouped in the Spring with a new name and a fresh focus.
Daisy McLaughlin, K’19, got involved with the JFC last year when she attended the Real Food Challenge in Columbus, Ohio. Here she connected with past Farms to K participants and joined their Spring meetings to plan their initiatives for the 2016-2017 academic year.
“I think our group is important on campus because we work on creating more just and sustainable food within the K community and in the surrounding Kalamazoo community,” said McLaughlin.
The group holds weekly meetings every Tuesday at 8 pm, however, subcommittees meet throughout the week to work on various smaller projects such as planning a Homecoming Panel about on-campus farming at other colleges and establishing student transportation to the local Bank Street Farmer’s Market.
“We’re the only ones on campus currently who are advocating for food justice issues…we often measure progress by projects, but just having a space for conversations about injustice and food access is really important,” said Strauss.
Anyone with an interest in furthering food justice initiatives on K’s campus can contact Strauss at Marian.Strauss13@kzoo.edu.