By Meghan McCandless
This summer, students and faculty in Appalachian State University’s Goodnight Family Department of Sustainable Development forged a partnership with Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (BRWIA), a local organization dedicated to strengthening Boone’s food system.
Thanks to an idea from alumna Lindsey Giglio ’16, all excess food harvested at the university’s Blackburn Vannoy Teaching and Research Farm and in the campus gardens was collected and donated to families in need across the High Country.
The partnership is just one of many ways Appalachian engages with the local community.
Giglio, a sustainable development graduate who now works for BRWIA’s Community of Gardens program, approached the department with a proposal to work together. During her time as a student, she worked in the Sustainable Development Civic Garden and Appalachian’s Child Development Center Edible Schoolyard. While at the university, she said she saw a disconnection between the campus gardens and the community.
“I wanted to make sure the food didn’t go to waste,” Giglio said. Department chair Dr. Rick Rheingans calls the partnership a win-win.
“Our department’s goals include supporting sustainable communities and bringing local and organic foods to area organizations and those in need,” Rheingans said. “One of our primary objectives is to address food insecurity in the area and develop creative and unique solutions that involve both students and the community.”
Since produce donations are perishable and refrigerator space is limited, one of Giglio’s primary challenges is managing the volume of donations and coordinating with several local organizations about delivery schedules. This summer’s recipients included:
To date, the farm and gardens have produced almost 300 pounds of donated produce, including fresh lettuce, broccoli, peppers, kale, squash and more.
As she continues her role with BRWIA’s Community of Gardens program, Giglio said her goal is to grow the volunteer base among the community and include more students by connecting with clubs on campus. She encourages everyone with a passion for solving local food insecurity to get involved.
“It’s so rewarding to see the recipients’ faces when we arrive with the donations,” she said.
“They are always surprised to get fresh food. I love seeing that all the food coming in has somewhere to go.”
300 pounds of fresh lettuce, broccoli, peppers, kale, squash and other produce have been donated.
“It’s so rewarding to see the recipients’ faces when we arrive with the donations… They are always surprised to get fresh food.”
– sustainable development graduate Lindsey Giglio ’16