A partnership between the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) and Farming 4 Hunger (F4H) is growing – a new market garden demonstration, that is – at CSM’s Prince Frederick Campus. The garden will provide a “’ planting of the seed’ to harvest” experience that provides food for the region’s hungry and teachable moments in self-sufficiency, teambuilding, service leadership, volunteerism, and finding purpose.
This month, F4H staff and volunteers are working in the front field of the Prince Frederick Campus on J W Williams Road to recondition the soil, install mini-greenhouse tunnels and build raised flower beds with the goal of having a September garden ready for a late-fall harvest. The yield will supplement CSM’s Hawk Feeder pantries, add additional pollinator habitats at the campus and provide workforce training, course programming, and volunteer opportunities for CSM students and the community.
The idea for the garden took root about a year ago during a conversation between CSM Board of Trustee Chair Jay Webster and Farming 4 Hunger Founder Bernie Fowler Jr.—prompting the two to draft a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) almost immediately. The MOU was approved by CSM’s Board of Trustees in March.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the College of Southern Maryland and Farming 4 Hunger as both of our missions are focused on changing lives, providing workforce development, and cultural and personal enrichment opportunities,” said Webster. “We can’t wait to see the great things that will come of this partnership.”
F4H is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed in 2012 to serve those in need of fresh food statewide, and particularly in Southern Maryland. The organization grows and distributes more than one million pounds of locally grown, fresh food each year from fields located at Serenity Farms in Hughesville and from a farm in Denton, Maryland. A native and resident of Calvert County, Fowler said it has been a long-time dream of his to have a Farming 4 Hunger garden in his hometown.
“F4H accomplishes its mission through unique partnerships with local farms, churches, local businesses and schools, the Maryland Food Bank, the Department of Corrections, and a great network of community volunteers,” said Fowler. “We are thrilled to add the College of Southern Maryland to our list of partners and evolve our programming to help CSM students in any way we can. Together, I am hopeful that our partnership will serve as the model for other higher education institutions and we look forward to building this effort and learning from it with that goal in mind.”
F4H works to feed the hungry. The F4H team also immerses itself in teaching teamwork; helping community members struggling to regain hope; addressing drug abuse and alcohol prevention for children and young adults, and helping incarcerated and formerly incarcerated citizens rehabilitate and learn new skills.
CSM Director of Strategic Initiatives and Projects Kim Yellman will lead CSM’s efforts with F4H and in September is convening a team of CSM champions who will help integrate the market garden demonstration into CSM’s academic programs, training, student and employee activities.
“We are excited about this new collaboration with Farming 4 Hunger,” Yellman said. “Along with gardening and feeding those with food insecurities, Farming 4 Hunger is committed to equity and inclusivity – both of which are core values that guide CSM’s work every day.”