Bio Students Discuss Food Security; Plan MU Garden

Miriam Erbaugh

In a VIA titled “Building a Campus Food Security and Biodiversity Action Plan,” 65 Manchester University biology students from across three sections of Biology 106: Principles of Biology I presented research they had gathered throughout the semester on Monday Dec. 6.

The VIA was a continuation of the ongoing Sustainable Development Goal Series and was presented through interactive experience in the Upper JYSC. Roughly 95 attendees were divided into different small groups, rotating through student-run stations. Each of the groups received a unique experience and had the opportunity to participate in a number of demonstrations.

The three sections of Biology 106, taught by Associate Professor of Biology Kristen Short and Director of the Environmental Studies Program Dr. Suzanne Beyeler, studied the principles of biology and related them to food production, food insecurity, and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals throughout the semester.

The students’ presentations connected to the nitrogen cycle, carbon cycle and biodiversity. They also covered the impacts on humans and the environment of various growing methods; as well as considering costs, benefits, locations and what plants are most sustainable in this climate, with the goal of creating a community garden on campus.

The presentations themselves covered a wide range of topics. Some students created a visual representation of algae bloom. Other groups explained what type of calories are typically consumed by college students and demonstrated different levels of food insecurities on campus through a board game.

Joana Ramirez, a sophomore, presented on the difference between organic and processed foods. “Many processed foods involve raw materials that are produced on farms that use industrial agricultural techniques,” Ramirez said. “Contrarily, organic food is produced without the use of modern industrial farming practices including ionizing radiation, synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides.”

First year Emily Burdick demonstrated the importance of biodiversity in agriculture. “Using the individual ingredients for carrot cake as a metaphor, we served participants carrots, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla extract to represent mono agriculture” Burdick said. “After we explained how this represents a low biodiversity system, we then served carrot cake to represent our garden, which would contain multiple resources for students, faculty, and community members to use.”

All of the presentations related to the creation of an all campus community garden which the students will be working on in the spring. Professor Short wrote about the goals of the garden over email. “We envision the garden project being a collaborative effort between faculty and students, and involving many departments across campus,” Short said.