While I am living the dream in so many ways, and have been privileged to have something I have always done for play suddenly become my work (pretty much all of you know I’m a fire performer right? If you don’t, now you do), for a long time I have been looking for a deeper connection to the land and to my community, and to do work with a lasting positive impact. This is what drew me into this class originally; to find direction and purpose through collaborative efforts. Of course, I also wanted to get my hands dirty and start growing food as quickly as possible, the other factor for what drew me to True Greens.
True Greens has laid the groundwork for a thriving on campus farm, something very unique and – having lived on campus and on the unhealthy dining options there – especially vital. Being in the greenhouse every day took me to a place of mental quiet where I could ponder the impact of this project. Not only does True Greens pave the way for healthy, sustainable local food, but increased student involvement will lead to more awareness on sustainability, health, and community organizing.
The fact that there had been preparation for True Greens prior to the start of the semester helped make things go very smoothly; I felt that we didn’t come across many of the hurdles that other groups faced was immensely satisfying. We were immediately able to start growing, start selling microgreens to vendors on and off campus, and making plans towards expansion. The project didn’t see a single huge setback for the entirety of the semester, and as time went on we got better and better at what we did.
My advice to anyone starting work with True Greens would be to get well acquainted with both the growing and business sides of things as early on as possible. While True Greens does effectively address social issues, it’s important not to forget that it is also a business, and learning tactics related to marketing and entrepreneurship will help immensely.
My concept of food justice hasn’t changed too much from the beginning to the end of the semester; rather, I was amazed at all of the creative ways that people worked to combat food justice related issues at every facet of the food system. Access to sustainable, healthy, local food with minimal waste for all is not something that is going to be achieved quickly, and community organizing and creative problem solving is vital to achieving it. I hope to be involved in True Greens in some way, shape or form for the entirety of my time at UMBC, and I am excited to see what the future holds.
– Lydia Russell