University Sustainability

Defining Sustainability since 1899

Current Projects

Foodscaping: incorporating edible landscaping on campus

Foodscaping is the integration of edible plants into ornamental landscaping beds. Food insecurity and the environmental impacts of conventional agriculture and globalized food systems are both pressing issues in sustainability. Foodscaping provides a way to combat both of these by simply converting existing garden beds that are used for ornamental landscaping into integrated, ecologically diverse, and bountiful garden plots. Furthermore, planting edibles in public spaces is a radical act that challenges an economic system which deprives people of their elemental needs for the sake of profit.

This project would entail planning out permaculture designs for specific sites on campus, writing grants or finding donations for perennial and annual edibles, and negotiating with Chris Erickson who manages campus landscaping and campus administration. Research on the sustainability benefits of foodscaping and the appeal it would add to App State’s campus will be important for negotiating with campus administration as well as in grant writing. Collaborators could include the App State Gardening Club and permaculture students.

Did you know that garlic is the most consumed vegetable in the United States and that most of it comes from China despite it being a fairly simple vegetable to grow? Garlic can be grown on the edges of landscaping beds (which are typically just mulch) and are effective in preventing pests.

Outreach and Environmental Subjectivities

Gardens are intrinsically important, but they also are important for the way that humans engage in them and are transformed by that engagement. How many of today’s problems have been caused by a perceived lack of connection with the Earth and its cycles?

The campus gardens can be a space for helping promote human (re)connection with the Earth. Growing, harvesting, and eating food is one of the most direct examples of this and adding intention to this process can work to transform human subjectivities.

Possible outreach:

  • yoga in the garden (grounding, rooting to Earth)
  • harvest celebration and other seasonal/cyclical celebrations
  • coordinating workshops with Gardening Club and other organizations with relevant interests
  • promoting events and workshops
  • processing garden harvests for campus farmers markets
  • promoting the community apothecary with events and guest lectures
  • incorporating more signage, labeling, and information in the gardens
  • planning fun events that appeal to broader audiences to introduce them to gardens

Native plants

Native plants “are those that occur naturally in a region in which they evolved” and as such, provide the “ecological basis upon which life depends, including birds and people” (Audubon Society). Native plants improve biodiversity, support local wildlife habitats, are well suited to the local climate, and promote a sense of place. Especially with the onslaught of urban development, bringing back areas of native plants is vital to preserving local wildlife. This project will work to introduce more native plants to the campus gardens and to identify existing native plants. It will involve coordinating with Daniel Boone Native Gardens to schedule work-trades for native plants, creating a database of all existing native plants in the campus gardens, and diversifying campus garden beds.

Everything Pollinators

“1 in every 3 bites of food we eat is courtesy of insect pollination. Equally important, 90% of all wild plants and trees rely on pollinators for the survival of their species” (Bee City USA). Pollinators are declining due to habitat loss and pesticide use, but they can be supported by creating healthy habitats for them to thrive.

This project addresses everything related to pollinators. It will involve coordinating closely with Bee Campus USA committee to support App State’s ongoing certification process which involves education and outreach, identification of pollinator-friendly plants, and creating more pollinator habitats on campus as a whole. Additionally, this project can work to develop a plan and coordinate with Tanger Outlets in Blowing Rock to help them establish a pollinator garden.

Plant medicine

Plants produce a variety of chemical compounds that can be used by humans as medicine. Plant medicines have been used for thousands of years (dating back to the Sumerians), and many of most common modern drugs today are based on active chemicals in plant medicines. The campus gardens have an array of medicinal plants already and have space to diversify further to provide a basis for a local and sustainable source of medicines.

This project will work on a variety of levels: establishing more medicinal plants in the campus gardens to diversify the existing populations, harvesting and processing medicinal plants to supply the community apothecary box in the Appalachian Roots garden, establishing databases of information of the medicinal plants in the campus gardens, creating resources for information on the plant medicines, and organizing outreach and educational events to spread information on the responsible and sustainable usage of plant medicines.

Food Security Networking

Establishing food security and food sovereignty are vital to community well-being and sustainability. Boone has many existing food security programs and services that seek to address issues of food security and sovereignty in the High Country including FARM Café, the Hospitality House, FARM Full Circle, WAMY’s garden voucher program, food pantries, and more!

This project will work to do some of the basic research and coordinating for these existing food security organizations such as compiling information on their services and hours into one accessible resource, polling to see their lacks and needs, and figuring out how the campus gardens can best support their initiatives to further strengthen the network of food security and food sovereignty in the High Country.

Child Development Center curriculum and outreach

The Child Development Center is designed to engage children in gardening to help them develop an integrated understanding of food, nutrition, and ecological concepts. This project will work with the Child Development Center teachers and director to create a curriculum for the preschool children, develop outreach for the families and teachers of the students in the center, coordinate with Lettuce Learn to access resources, and plan and maintain the garden at the CDC to support the curriculum and these other initiatives.


Events link (Facebook)

Appsync (Garden Club)

Facebook page

Booking info - If you are interested in booking space in the Roots Garden, contact Sydney Blume at