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May 2013 Reports from the Classroom

Telling Stories

by Jessica Rowland, Lecturer & Education Support Coordinator, UNM Sustainability Studies Program

hand holding garlic bulbs

Everyone loves stories. Remember being a child and begging for just one more bedtime story? Well, at UNM, one of our goals is to encourage students to craft meaningful stories. From the Lobo First-Year Reading Experience to the Writing Across Communities initiative, a variety of campus programs are facilitating effective reading and writing skills for students in all disciplines.

In the Sustainability Studies Program, our aim is to authentically develop each student's effective voice through engaging written, oral, and hands-on projects. This semester's SUST-364 Growers' Market Practicum students had the opportunity to practice telling stories in their ABQ Stew blog pieces. From interviews of local foodshed heroes to '˜how-to' guides on sustainable topics, students shared their perspectives on sustainable food and agriculture in New Mexico.

In Biodynamics in New Mexico, Ian -- now an intern at the Nob Hill Growers' Market -- evocatively writes of his visit to Erda Gardens: "It's a cool but sunny day, and storms mill around the edges of the Rio Grande valley like cattle. Though I'm still in the city, the neighborhood feels like a rural village with its big yards full of old cottonwoods and acequia canals. The fences and stables and mailboxes have all seen several decades since they were new, but the area feels quietly alive."

Lydia -- an aspiring pastry chef -- describes the steps necessary to construct a functional wood-fired oven out of clay bricks. In Back to Basics, she reminds us that "bread has been a staple of the human diet for thousands of years and can be found, in one form or another, in almost every culture in the world. It is amazing to consider how such a simple and humble food, composed of only three or four ingredients, has transcended the boundaries of class, religion and culture. It is a food that has been consumed with equal vigor by both the rich and the poor." 

Benjamin -- a community garden advocate -- asks, "When was the last time you really talked with your neighbors? Do you even know their last names?" In Seeds of Connection: Benefits of Growing a Community Garden, he details how the East Central Ministries Growing Awareness Urban Farm and the Sawmill Community Land Trust garden can help bring people together and build stronger, safer neighborhoods.

The ABQ Stew blog serves as a web-based resource for campus and community members interested in learning more about New Mexico's foodsheds, as well as a hub of information for the Lobo Growers' Market. Let us know what you think about our stories, and don't be afraid to start telling your own!

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