Hendrix Magazine

Edible Odyssey

By Rob O’Connor ’95
Associate Editor

Hendrix students have a healthy appetite for more than simply eating. They want to know where it comes from, how it was grown, and how it can improve their health and their world.

In this issue of Hendrix Magazine, we highlight just a small sample of students who are engaged in food-related projects through Your Hendrix Odyssey: Engaging in Active Learning, along with some examples of Hendrix alumni and their food-focused Odysseys.

As a senior capstone project for an interdisciplinary studies major she designed in sustainable development, Katherine Roehm ’11 from Austin, Texas, developed "Hendrix Edible Forest Garden and Arkansas Heritage Vegetables."

With the help of an Odyssey project grant, she and a group of five students spent three weeks before the beginning of the fall semester creating a garden of multifunctional, perennial fruits and vegetables, on a College-owned plot of land across from campus between Washington Avenue and Clifton Street and adjacent to a community garden operated by a student garden club.

Students tilled and tested the soil, which they enriched with organic manure they received from Cody Hopkins ’01 of Falling Sky Farm (Read more about Cody on page 30). They planted 22 species of edible perennial fruits and vegetables, including 15 edible species native to North America. The Edible Forest uses the principles of permaculture, incorporating a layered landscape of trees, shrubs, vines, and groundcovers. Roehm studied permaculture in a previous Odyssey experience that took her to Sirius Ecovillage in Massachusetts.

Ultimately, the Edible Forest will feature a forest-like structure of stacked perennial plants and vegetables that is self-sustaining or at least low-maintenance.

In a special section in the garden, students planted heritage vegetables – beans, peppers, cabbage, cucumbers, and mustard greens – grown from seeds from the Ozark Mountain Bioregion. They enjoyed a bumper crop of Big Potato Cucumbers, which they made into pickles and presented to students during a presentation on their Odyssey project. They also spoke about the Edible Forest Garden project in classes, including Dr. Stella Capek’s Food, Culture, and Nature course, Dr. Joyce Hardin’s Introduction to Environmental Studies, and Dr. Ann Willyard’s Plants and People.

In addition to the Edible Forest Garden, Roehm served as a co-chair of the Environmental Concerns Committee during her sophomore year. She helped start several new campus sustainability initiatives, including the Green Team, which collects cardboard and other recyclable material from students during move-in day, and Trash to Treasure, a similar concept for collecting material when students move out. She also participated in a sustainable development study abroad program through the School of Field Studies in Costa Rica and served on a campus sustainability committee appointed by the President. After graduation this spring, she plans to participate in an organic farming program in South America operated by the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and ultimately pursue a master’s degree in ecology or landscape architecture.

Opportunities like these are why Roehm chose Hendrix.

"The Odyssey Program is a big part of it," she said. "For self-starters who are motivated, there is support. I definitely would not have been able to do this without the help of Odyssey."

"You can really get involved with what you are passionate about," she said. "I think Hendrix is a really great place for that."