The Sustainable Education and Engagement Destination (S.E.E.D.) is an initiative planted by the student body of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) after earning a $30,000 grant from Home Depot’s HBCU campaign, “Retool Your School” in the spring of 2016.
The Sustainability Institute is comprised of environmentally conscious individuals focused on networking and collaborating with the community to solve local and global issues. The S.E.E.D. offers FAMU students the advantage of experiencing their class, outside.
Coordinator of Engagement and Communication for the Sustainability Institute, Bakari McClendon enjoys having one foot in the office and another in the grass. Hailing from Jacksonville, McClendon believes in the educational opportunities that everyone can take advantage of.
“We all eat and should have better opportunities to grow or learn how to grow our own food,” McClendon expressed.
McClendon’s strategy is to increase longevity amongst its members. He wants the focus to remain on educating the public on sustainability by hosting workshops that engage volunteers in various interactive, eco-friendly activities such as; 31 uses of a lemon, learning culinary herbs, and homemade cleaning products.
McClendon raved about the opportunities allocated from this initiative.
“We use donated compost for soil in order to reduce food waste. Metz, Farm Share, and Second Harvest are some of our zealous partners, along with our [FAMU’s] faculty and staff,” McClendon explained. “Now we have room in the Green House so that we can harvest year round. Most importantly, the food we grow goes back to the students, faculty and staff, and organizations that donated.”
S.E.E.D. is pivotal juncture for sustainable culture on the campus and in the community. The individuals that were persistent with support of the garden became the Green Coalition.
The Green Coalition is now a FAMU organization comprised of students who are knowledgeable about horticulture and agri-business. Those students are also passionate about teaching others about sustainability.
Farm assistant and agricultural science and animal industry major Dylan Jackson was one of the first members. Jackson welcomes everyone and wants to see more millennials of color out at the garden.
“When I was introduced to agriculture in high school most of the rich people I knew owned land, cattle, and farms,” Jackson declared. “It's something that our community needs to be educated on. We are not open to it and we’re missing out.”
Following the opening of S.E.E.D., the garden would host dozens of people weekly. Most recently McClendon and Jackson both observed a noticeable difference in enthusiasm from students and community members.
Furthermore, a study featured on Floral Daily illustrates that the horticulture industry has contributed over 190 billion dollars to the US economy in 2017. Surprisingly, 2.3 billion dollars was generated from local farmers, who make up only 25% of the entire population.
Alumnus Niles Marrow has been with S.E.E.D. and the Green Coalition since its conception and can testify to the lucrativeness of this industry. Marrow wants to increase membership, an overall goal for the organization.
“Many of us would be environmentally and financially sustainable if we stayed committed to the farm,” Marrow explained.
Like Marrow, the affiliates of the Green Coalition make it a point to educate everyone on agriculture and sustainability. Even for those who have little to no experience. Volunteers are responsible for their own plant but are assisted in the process.
Farmers at SEED walk volunteers through the planting, germination, seedling, transplanting, and pest control processes. S.E.E.D. also provides seeds, pods, soil, and compost.
Sustainability not only helps to beautify FAMU’s campus, but also helps the community. People have a new community resource that provides lessons on preserving water, energy, and food which is essential to the ecosystem.
Sharpening the relationship between the schools, expanded university partnerships, and introduced new networks, while saving the university's expenses. Students that participate also experience the intimacy of nature when they grow their own food.
Located next to the Hansel E. Tookes Sr. Student Recreation Center, the garden has a plethora of plants including, but not limited to: aloe, pear trees, greens, pecan trees, mint, sweet potato, pineapple, and tomato.
FAMU continues to educate and give back to the community one seed at a time.
For more information, contact the Coordinator of Engagement and Communication, Bakari McClendon at Bakari.McClendon@famu.edu.