Driving Change in Higher Education.

Urban farm to be constructed at MCTC

$72,000 “Green Space” proposal passed by Student Senate

By Will Tully

Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Ever since the Minneapolis City Council adopted the Urban Agriculture Policy Plan, community gardens have begun to crop up throughout the city, facilitating the distribution of locally grown produce and encouraging consumption of whole foods within these communities. 

Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s (MCTC) “Green Space” proposal is essentially a small-scale farm that would grow produce on campus in an urban environment. After two years of deliberations and planning, the Urban Farm Collective’s (UFC) proposal was passed by the MCTC Student Senate with an overwhelming majority late last fall. Although initially there were concerns about the perceived high cost of the project, proponents for the farm had built a strong case around their proposal which was further strengthened through an impartial, senate-led sample survey showing 86.6% of students answering “yes” when asked if they supported the construction of an urban farm on MCTC’s campus. 

The majority of the costs to building the urban farm will come from the MCTC student life reserves which is typically not accessible to student senate. The $72,000 is an initial cost and any funds not used for the construction of the farm will be returned to the reserves. Ongoing utility costs will be paid for independent of student life, though any additional maintenance costs are to be paid for through the student-funded UFC club budget. 

The project has the potential to benefit virtually all students on campus as any produce grown will be handed out free of charge. According to MCTC’s student senate advisor, Collin Beachy, “[Urban] gardening is a big thing now. It’s going to help feed homeless students on campus and teach people about farming.” 

The Herbal Studies program could also stand to benefit since the primary purpose for the project is for educational use, according to Cody Mehlin, the Vice President of the UFC. “There is the idea to give food away to people,” Mehlin said, “but that’s not really our main goal. Our goal is to teach people to farm and garden and show you can do it in an urban environment.” 

At MCTC, as well as at most other campuses, the senate often must learn to work with clubs who are subject to fluctuating membership and participation. The approved proposal addresses these concerns by giving the MCTC Sustainability Committee the power of oversight and operation of the farm in the event that the UFC is no longer capable of maintaining the garden independently. This will ensure that the potential success of the project would continue should the UFC suffer from a lapse in membership. 

Next steps for the project will include a groundbreaking ceremony due to take place late this spring in which all students and community members will be invited to participate. Big things are happening at MCTC and our student senate wants to show that two-year colleges aren’t any less motivated than four-year institutions in creating positive changes on our campuses. This student led initiative will enhance the wellbeing of MCTC by adapting it to become more ecological and attractive to prospective students, which would further the success of our campus as a whole.

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