Recipe for engagement

University of Georgia students are helping create a book about the West Broad Farmers Market that will include recipes from local residents who work there or live in the surrounding community.

As part of a new service-learning course on community-engaged research methods, UGA graduate students worked with the Athens Land Trust to gather information for a cookbook called “West Broad: The Flavor of Athens.”

The class conducted research for the project by interviewing local residents involved with the market, which is run by the Athens Land Trust.

“We were looking for places to do community-engaged research to practice methodology and were excited to partner with Athens Land Trust,” said Brandy Walker, a public service assistant at the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development. “We became a resource for the first steps of this project.”

Walker designed the course as a Service-Learning Fellow in 2016 and taught it during the spring 2017 semester.

Each student in the class interviewed a community leader about how food relates to their lives, their “recipe for leadership,” and a favorite food recipe.

 “That neighborhood has a special history in Athens,” said DeJoiré Hall, who is coordinating the cookbook for the Athens Land Trust. “It was important for us to make sure that people are viewing it as a place that has a strong food history.”

In service-learning courses, students take what they are learning academically and apply it to an identified community project.

“Dr. Walker’s class is a great example of how academic content can be brought to life and benefit the community at the same time,” said Paul Matthews, associate director of the Office of Service-Learning. “Her students are deepening their understanding of research methodology while at the same time learning about the local community and gaining experience in working respectfully with community partner organizations, which is exactly the sort of ‘win-win’ we hope for in academic service-learning.”

The course and the opportunity to work on the cookbook was a meaningful opportunity, said Ashley Nylin, who is getting her Ph.D. in education.

“I enjoyed meeting and working with others outside of my field,” Nylin said. “I am so often surrounded by only other educators that it was really nice to expand my horizons and think about things differently.”

 “The students did an amazing job with the project,” said Kelsey Thompson, housing coordinator for the Athens Land Trust. “Knowing each of the people that they interviewed, I think it did a good job of summarizing their story that ties in food and leadership.”

Additional interviews will be conducted for the book, which the Athens Land Trust hopes to release in November.