01/31/2014 05:53 pm ET

HBCUs Bring Health And Wealth With Community Gardens


A key element of urban sustainability is for a community to control its natural resources. A growing example of metropolitan communities taking ownership of their health and well being is the fast-growing trend of urban gardening.

With the ability to refine soil and grow fresh crops in almost any environment, including indoor facilities, metropolitan areas are seeing a surge in organic food production for individual use and commercial resale.

Historically black colleges and universities are embracing the urban gardening model as a part of their community outreach objectives. Here are four schools bringing good food and good vibes to the communities around them.

Tennessee State University - Tennessee State welcomes gardeners from its campus borders and throughout Nashville to work its campus community garden. The garden leases plots to gardeners of varying levels of expertise, with goals of spurring healthy eating and entrepreneurship for budding produce sellers.

Fort Valley State University - Concerned with the growing epidemic of obesity in rural areas across the south, faculty and students at Fort Valley State University launched their community garden project in the summer of 2012. With support from regional health organizations, FVSU invited community members to plant and harvest fresh food, while promoting the benefits of healthy eating, exercise and neighborhood beautification.

University of the District of Columbia - In 2013, UDC faculty and students created one of the nation’s most unique community gardens. Where most gardens provide fruits and vegetables, UDC’s garden introduced residents to a variety of exotic plants in three separate gardens, with each designed to stimulate the senses of touch, smell and sight.

West Virginia State University - WVSU partnered with the city of Huntington, WV to develop several community gardens for children, design to encourage entrepreneurship and business development at an early age. The gardens spurred the launch of the university’s CARES Day, a day of volunteerism for all West Va. State faculty, staff and students.