Collaborative Urban Farm Multimedia E-Cookbook Builds Community

Collaborative Urban Farm Multimedia E-Cookbook Builds Community

community garden space

Green Village Initiative Community Garden at 142 Charles Street in Bridgeport, Conn.

The online e-cookbook, Everything Down to the Root: Exchanges in Food, Culture and Knowledge in a Community of Urban Farmersincludes recipes for things like “Ital Veg Salad” and “Beet Popsicles.” 

Faculty and students from Fairfield’s Center for Social Impact and the College of Arts and Sciences' Professional Writing Program, along with members of Green Village Initiative (GVI) — a non-profit committed to expanding food justice through urban agriculture in Bridgeport, Conn., have created a multimedia e-cookbook that includes a compilation of garden recipes, audio clips, and “words of wisdom.”

The online volume, Everything Down to the Root: Exchanges in Food, Culture and Knowledge in a Community of Urban Farmers, is based on a series of interviews with the community farmers that contribute to GVI. The lead interviewers were Fairfield’s Joel Beatty, PhD, visiting assistant professor of professional writing and Scott Lacy, PhD, associate professor of sociology and anthropology, with assistance from the students of Dr. Beatty’s ENW337 multimedia writing course.

“The recipes shared in this book are simple, organic, and made with the wholesome ingredients these farmers grow themselves,” Dr. Beatty writes in the opening of the cookbook. “The knowledge they share is immeasurable.”

Also, in the introduction, Dr. Beatty details that the farmers and gardeners interviewed for the book “embody the idea that growing healthy food, building relationships and sharing knowledge are essential components to a vibrant urban farming community. When they sat down for separate interviews, the participants in this book were asked wide-ranging questions like: What is important to you? What are you most proud of in life? What motivates you to learn new things about food and farming?”

“We were overwhelmed by their responses and willingness to share their knowledge and stories about food, culture, and life,” Dr. Beatty continues at the opening of the book, which includes recipes for things like “Ital Veg Salad” and “Beet Popsicles.” 

The idea for the cookbook developed through the initial research and work of environmental studies major Julia Nojeim ’19. As part of her senior capstone project Nojeim spent months observing and collecting data from nine different urban gardens located throughout the city of Bridgeport, to measure the gardens’ effects on social cohesion, their fiscal impact on the community, and the role they play in improving residents’ health, well-being, and engagement.

From documentation of the gardens’ week-to-week growth and yield to committed volunteer hours, the data collected from Nojeim’s research study was used by GVI to refine its program strategies and bolster the case for future urban farm and garden projects as part of the Bridgeport Urban Agriculture Master Plan.

Learn more about the Fairfield University and Green Village Initiative Partnership

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