Sustainable South: HBCUs Creating Sustainable Campuses

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Paul Quinn College students work in the WE over ME farm. Photo courtesy of Paul Quinn College.

People like the word sustainability. But how people use the word matters. These five historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) show us a proper use of the term by building sustainable campuses and communities. These schools demonstrate what applied sustainability, in food, looks like in the South.

Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, manages sustainable vegetable gardens around the city. The Arbor Day Foundation recognizes the school as an official “tree campus,” meaning that trees are effectively maintained on campus.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, Johnson C. Smith University houses a community aquaponic farm that grows tilapia and vegetables. The food is donated to area food banks.

Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas, transformed a football field into an organic farm. Called the WE Over ME farm, it grows more than 20,000 pounds of organic vegetables to support underserved families in the area’s food desert. The garden also supplies many Dallas restaurants and the Dallas Cowboys’ concessions.

Opened as a women’s college in 1881, Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, leads the campus sustainability movement nationally. As part of its Climate Action Plan, the school has a trayless dining program, offers vegan options, and serves no trans-fat.

Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia, promotes sustainable agricultural practices in the area. The school helps farmers incorporate aquaponics and alternative crops to their farms. VSU also provides farmers with strategies to avoid crop infestation and food borne illness.