UWF launches Argos’ Edible Campus program, combating food insecurity
With 200 new trees and bushes on the University of West Florida’s Pensacola campus, the University is taking another step toward combating food insecurity with its Argos’ Edible Campus program. The program will provide access to fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables, free of charge to students. In March, Chasidy Hobbs, lecturer in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and her students, participated in the first planting event.
“Through this program, we’re creating sustainable environments by incorporating landscapes with plants that are both beautiful and edible,” Hobbs said. “Our goal is to have 1,000 fruiting trees or bushes by 2024.”
In addition to Argos’ Edible Campus program, the Argo Pantry and UWF Community Garden are a part of UWF’s response to food insecurity. One in 12 UWF students visit the Argo Pantry annually. The Argo Pantry is a campus resource that sustains currently enrolled UWF students with free, healthy food and basic personal care items, allowing students to focus on academic goals and progress toward degree completion and not worry about food insecurities. Hobbs hopes to remove the stigma of food insecurity by empowering students to get involved with growing their own food.
“We welcome anyone who would like to be involved,” Hobbs said. “Spend some time learning to grow your own food. If you do not have the time to come get dirty with us, but want to contribute to food production on campus, we suggest donating, if you can. Once the trees and bushes get established and start producing much more fruit we will have harvesting events, but that is likely a few years away. The next planting event will be held in Spring 2022.”
Since becoming involved, sophomore Monica Woodruff, who is majoring in Environmental Sciences, says her interest in food insecurity has now turned into a passion.
“I have learned a lot about my community and a lot about myself as an ally this semester,” Woodruff said. “Food insecurity is everywhere, it just hides in plain sight. I’ve realized I have a personal (and enjoyable) duty within myself to help those who are struggling with food insecurity around me by doing something I love – planting.”
For more information, visit the Argos’ Edible Campus website.