Nestled between two College-owned houses across the street from Younker Hall are nine vegetable beds, a greenhouse, a toolshed, and a brightly painted sign welcoming visitors to the campus garden. Since 1999, the plot has been a hands-on bridge between students and Iowa’s agricultural roots.
Ellen Pinnette ’15 was one of two student apprentices at the garden in the summer of 2012. She asked fellow students what to grow and hosted volunteer days so those summering in Grinnell could get acquainted with the garden and take home a few fresh vegetables. Extra produce goes to a town community meal, to a local foods buffet, and to Mid-Iowa Community Action, a nonprofit that serves low-income families.
There’s also a student-run local foods co-op that has been a growing force since it started in 2006, when Hart Ford-Hodges ’10 bought local Paul’s Grains in bulk and took orders out of her dorm room. It now includes nine coordinators — students, staff, and community members — and 11 local producers, all members of the Grinnell Area Local Foods Alliance (GALFA). Sarah Shaughnessy ’13, last year’s lead co-op coordinator and Pinnette’s fellow 2012 apprentice, says the co-op offers honey, grains, and baked goods in the off-seasons and is working toward meat and dairy licensing as well. “You’re in the middle of the prairie, surrounded by producers,” she says. “There’s a lot of opportunity.”