Can ugly food and little free gardens become catalysts for change in the local food system?
Three Cobber grads believe so.
Megan Myrdal ’09, Gia Rassier ’10 and Jeff Knight ’04 are regulars at the Red River Market and share a love of the Fargo-Moorhead community. When brainstorming ideas for a unique way to celebrate Knight’s birthday, the idea to host an Ugly Food Farmers Market was born.
“We asked farmers to bring the foods that they wouldn’t normally take to the market: your funky looking carrots, your misshapen tomatoes, your off-color vegetables – things you would think consumers wouldn’t ordinarily buy,” says Myrdal.
After the success of the first market, the trio has held community potlucks and panel discussions, and officially teamed up to create Ugly Food of the North.
“Ugly food is a conversation starter that leads us into a broader discussion about food issues like accessibility, urban agriculture, sustainability and food waste,” says Myrdal.
Ugly Food of the North’s first project kicks off this spring.
On April 23, the community is invited to Concordia’s campus to build their own 4’ x 2’ x 12” raised bed gardens. Like the popular Little Free Libraries that have been popping up in neighborhoods across the country, the Little Free Gardens are meant to be placed in front yards where the food grown will be accessible and available for anyone who wants to take it.
We want people to think about how and where we grow food – it doesn’t need to be in the backyard. – Megan Myrdal
The organizers hope the Little Free Gardens will become a source of community building and create opportunities to connect with people you wouldn’t otherwise talk to as they stop by yards to harvest food from your little garden.
Ugly Food of the North recognizes a disparity in access to food, even in Fargo-Moorhead. Though a few small gardens can’t remedy the problem, Myrdal says they are symbolic of the desire to create more equal access to healthy food options.
Each Little Free Garden built will include a seedling (started by the garden interns in Concordia’s high tunnel), a numbered placard with the Little Free Garden logo, and a booklet of planting recommendations and guidelines. Eventually, they plan to create a map to show the locations of all the Little Free Gardens in Fargo-Moorhead.
If you would like to build your own Little Free Garden at Concordia on April 23, please register here.
Laura Caroon '06 is a content strategist at Concordia College.