Project Abstract

The Beersheba Springs Medical Clinic provides free medical care to local residents facing a variety of health issues, including type II diabetes, obesity and heart disease.  To promote patient dialogue on the role of diet and exercise to prevent or reverse these diseases, clinic staff and Beersheba residents want to establish a garden on clinic land and hold cooking workshops at the Community Center that use garden produce.  Sewanee students, faculty and staff are working collaboratively to help Beersheba Springs realize this short term vision. The Beersheba Springs community garden and cooking workshops pilot project offers an opportunity to explore elements of a broader more long term vision for preserving and honoring the region’s southern Appalachian culture and self-sufficiency. This proposal seeks support to (1) expand the clinic garden, (2) develop cooking workshops and (3) create a heritage cooking and garden guide that integrates cherished recipes and stories told by local residents with new recipes that incorporate healthy garden produce.

Project Alignment with the Collaborative for Southern Appalachian Studies

This project strengthens ties among Sewanee faculty, staff and students and community partners in Beersheba Springs. The project offers to serve as a model for collaborative processes centered around educational gardens and cooking to promote better health, and as a pilot to explore the preservation of local knowledge and heritage. The project aims to help our partners achieve goals that they have set fourth for themselves, and in doing so demonstrates to our students the power of community-led initiatives in connecting people and achieving meaningful and lasting objectives.

Project Impact

The goals of this project are to (1) help the residents of Beersheba Springs achieve their vision of a community garden on clinic land that produces vegetables distributed to patients and used in cooking workshops, (2) develop a series of cooking workshops with residents of Beersheba and Chef Wright, and (3) conduct a pilot project to preserve local heritage by integrating the stories and recipes of shared by residents with new recipes in a cooking and gardening guide. Both the collaborative process and fruitful completion of this project will further strengthen Sewanee’s relationship and image among residents of surrounding communities, and ultimately help broaden the missions of the University Farm and Dining Services to include community engagement and heritage preservation. Students will learn how to (1) enter into culturally sensitive community engagement through collaborative garden work, listening, appreciating and transcribing s tories and (2) work with a community to implement plans developed by that community. The project aims to build upon a trusting collaborative relationship in the region in which future projects can germinate and flourish.

Project deliverables include a community garden at the Beersheba Springs medical clinic, the development of cooking workshops with local residents and students under the direction of Chef Wright and a printed guide on garden produce and heritage cooking that will be distributed to residents, and potentially sold to raise funds for the clinic.