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During the week of Thanksgiving, we will share the reflections of students in Dr. Lisa Ottum’s rhetoric class.  This fall, they focused on what it means to eat well, including a number of interesting field experiences that challenged many students to consider issues of food justice.

It was a blustery cold and frigid day as I quickly shuffled my feet along the sidewalk to the small farm on campus. The biting wind kept blowing the snow up into my face, and I almost fell down on a block of ice. As treacherous as the walk was up there, it was worth the struggle. Reaching the farm, we were escorted under a plastic hood that protected the plants from the harsh weather during the winter months. The only thing that gave the plants the ability to survive was the occasional sunlight that shone through. As we stood under the clear plastic shelter some light finally broke through and filled the hooded structure, instantly bringing us warmth.

As the light was enabling the plants to grow through the dark and cold winter, it seemed that God was using that same light to provide me with a spiritual light to follow. The trip to the urban farm illuminated the problem for me of how our food is being grown and also to how we can use the concept of urban farming to not only grow healthier food but to also battle poverty.  I have always loved working with the earth and helping others has been something that has been part of my upbringing. The urban farm provided me with immediate insight and an opportunity to do both.

A simple fifty-minute trip with my English class to the urban farm on campus enlightened me that I can in fact do both of those things simultaneously. Currently, many of the things that I aspire to do to help others require that I have additional education other than a high school diploma and/or more resources at my disposal. In order to make an urban farm there is a lot of thought and planning that needs to go into it.  While I may not have the time or resources to do that now, I realized that still have the opportunity to help out on a smaller scale. I plan to begin a garden in my neighborhood this summer and to donate any of the extra food that I have left to those in need. Being able to be one with the earth is exciting for it will bring me closer to God’s creation in both gardening and sharing the profits that I reap from the garden with others.  An added benefit is that since our neighborhood is fairly new, a garden would be a great way in order to bring the community together. Even though it may not be as beneficial to as many people as urban farming may be, it is still a way that I can help others and continue to pass on God’s light and love to them.

Haley Jerabek is a first-year student, born and raised in Minnesota. A biology major, she runs cross country/track and field for X and is involved in AIA and M.O.R.E. Her experience has been wonderful at this school so far and she looks forward to what lies ahead!