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Argos’ Edible Campus allows UWF students to harvest fresh foods

According to a survey, about 30% of University of West Florida students consider themselves food insecure. To combat this, university faculty and students have introduced the Argos’ Edible Campus program. The program, a brainchild of the UWF Community Garden and Kugelman Honors Program, provides access to fresh produce free for any student to harvest.

“There’s such a great need on campus for fresh food for students, that I started to think about how we could expand what we’re doing at the garden and the rest of our huge, beautiful campus,” said Chasidy Hobbs, director of the Argos’ Edible Campus program. “That’s how I came up with the idea for Argos’ Edible Campus, to incorporate into the landscape trees and bushes that are beautiful but also provide food.”

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The Argo Pantry, a similar initiative that provides food to UWF students, often lacks fresh fruits and vegetables. The Argos’ Edible Campus program works in conjunction with the Argo Pantry to provide these healthy items to students who need them.

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Since the program was initiated in 2021, nearly 800 fruiting trees and bushes — just short of the program’s goal of 1,000 — have been planted across campus. The plantings are currently juvenile and will take several years before they can produce plentiful harvests.

“A decade from now, we’re going to have more food than we can maybe eat,” Hobbs said. “Eventually, we may be to the point where we’re donating some food to other food banks if the students aren’t able to keep up with eating all that.”

Edible plants available to students include apples, figs, pecans, loquats, olives, and others. An online interactive map, created by program volunteers, shows where fruiting trees and bushes are located and when they are ready for harvest.

“I was food insecure as a child, so food insecurity is a big thing for me,” said Monica Woodruff, a UWF senior and inaugural member of Argos' Edible Campus program. “Being a part of a program that involves permaculture and helping people be less food insecure at the same time is right up my alley.”

Unlike the UWF Community Garden, which houses seasonal crops that require heavy maintenance, the Argos’ Edible Campus program procures plants that require little upkeep upon maturation. Organizers hope that students from all walks of life will take advantage of the program’s harvest.

“The more students that are involved and know about it, the more it destigmatizes food insecurity,” said Cody Morton, UWF senior and inaugural member of the program.

The Argos’ Edible Campus program is paid for in part by the UWF Student Green Fee, which funds sustainability projects. For more information about the program, click here.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Argos’ Edible Campus program, email Chasidy Hobbs at chobbs@uwf.edu.

Hunter joined WUWF in 2021 as a student reporter.