Farm to Food to Table Project
- May 16th, 2014
- in Spotlight
Dr. Margaret Purcell, a member of the New College LifeTrack faculty, has partnered with University Place Middle School in Tuscaloosa to teach 150 students from grades 6–8 the fundamentals of small farming and local food. The students have visited Katie Farms in Coker to learn about farm operations. In spring 2014, students also participated in Purcell’s food consumer workshop and her local food economy workshop.
Next year, students will learn basic planting techniques, grow their own tomato container gardens, and establish a small above-ground garden at the school. This ongoing project will extend into spring 2015. The goals of the project are for students to become well-informed food consumers, to learn the elements of a local food economy, to witness the life cycle of a food source plants, and to experience growing a food product.
The research purpose of the project is to address the high correlation between low income and poor nutrition. Three deterrents — lack of resources, limited access to stores selling more nutritious foods, and unreliable transportation — make it nearly impossible for low-income families to get nutritious foods.
“Nutrition education can begin at a young age,” Purcell says, “and providing this education at a young age can help build adults who have healthier eating habits, according to Hatice Başkale and Zuhal Bahar in an article in Pediatric Medicine in 2011. After having been taught simple food basics such as healthy food options and portion control, the children made better food choices, including more fruits and vegetables and healthier snacks. Baskale and Bahar make it clear that providing nutritional guidance and education to school age children can help them make healthy food choices that can last a lifetime.”
This project was selected by The University of Alabama SACS Public/Community Service Compliance Certification Committee to be used in the SACS certification report affirming UA’s compliance with the SACS public service requirement. It is one of six projects selected for the report from all projects conducted at UA.