Issue Exploration


                An Urban Garden in Dallas, Texas

I have not yet begun my indoor garden within my dorm. After consulting with my partner in crime, Jason (the manager of Brunswick’s Pettiti Garden Center), I was informed to wait approximately four weeks before the last frost of the year.

I hate waiting.

I suppose for years I have waited for various things. When I was little I wanted one of those miniature cars to drive around the block. Of course, I never got it. That was the struggle of living in a single parent household during my childhood. I still act bitter today, although I do not actually feel resentment over something so pity. My mother worked far too hard for me to be anything but proud.

This is not me liking my past economic struggles with that of an entire population, specifically other minorities. Growing up I was instilled with the belief that what you want is not handed to you, but rather worked for. As I had gotten older, I obtained a job and worked for the material goods I wanted, I worked to be admitted into the Ohio State University, and I worked to ensure that I had the opportunity to be the best role model for my brothers.

But my story is not everyone’s story and I learned that through urban gardening. I was astounded by how centralized poverty could be and how a lack of income resulted in cheap food and a weakened attitude. I suppose that is why I worked so hard on that farm. It was an opportunity for children and young adults to see that change was possible.

Much like education, healthy food should be a basic human right. Yet there are so many root causes which pulls natural food from urban neighborhoods.

For one, the concentrated poverty results in the lack of supermarkets in surrounding areas. However, this poverty can be due to a multitude of reasons that are not addressed. Lack of job opportunities or transportation, lack of education, and increased drug and alcohol use pulls income out of inner cities.

Lack of education or situations which promote an individual’s strengths greatly decreases a city’s human capital. It is necessary for a population to obtain skills which allow them to compete in various marketplaces.

A defeated attitude based on the situations of the community also demolishes the opportunity of human rights in inner cities. I have spoken to individuals who feel nothing could be done about their situation.

This could further be seen through the lack of aid from state and local governments. When these individual’s refuse to aid in community projects, the city is left in a stagnant and broken position. Crime increases as a way to promote income. The individuals suffer.

This is what I believe to be the largest root cause. The fact that everyone turns a blind eye on those struggling.

That is why I have become so impassioned through urban gardening. It boosts the morale in the cities, teaches leadership abilities, and helps individuals find their self worth. Furthermore, it allows for families to receive healthy food and encourages the art of cooking within a community.

Urban farming has so many benefits for a community. It aids in economic development within a region, alleviates poverty, and increases the inclusion of current members. It also allows for a source of local produce and increases sustainability.

I believe that the greatest challenges in addressing this root cause is that it will take a lot of work to open the eyes of the government and fellow citizens. There is nothing people like to block out more than situations that are filled with dread. To many individuals, if it is not their city it is not their problem. However, I hope to encourage others to see the whole nation as their city and aid those in need just as they would a sick neighbor.

I also believe the current political climate is harmful. To many, those in impoverished neighborhoods should simply, “Stop being poor.” I take much issue to this. Without the correct psychological aid, the correct funding, and the end of systemic poverty in a neighborhood how can one stop being poor? Getting government support on issues such as urban farming will become much of an issue. When looking at the most current statement by the president, suggesting the removal of food stamps to canned goods, I worry that we have lost all compassion for those with less income. While receiving canned food allows for a more limited approach to what these consumers can and cannot buy, I am left saying that the food deficit will still remain in these communities. Canned foods are not as healthy as fresh produce. It contains a greater amount of salt and sugar, can contain BPA, and can even contain bacteria if not preserved properly. Furthermore, it does not address the human capital deficit. Rather than putting individuals to work, creating skills in the community, or starting up a local economy there is still the same reliance on a government system which sends out less than acceptable food to feed poor communities.

Currently, I know of 2 organizations addressing the issue of food deserts within poor communities. In my hometown, this was UpCycle Farm and here it is Franklinton Farms. However, many more exist within the state. In fact, there are numerous websites such as, Urban Farms of Central Ohio, which are dedicated to educating others about their beliefs and history.

There are regulations mentioned by Ohio’s EPA which can limit the spread of urban farming. For one, zoning regulations on the local level may deem urban agriculture to be unfit for the given area. Zoning also determines where structures, such as greenhouses, could be placed and whether or not composting is allowed in the area. Many Ohio jurisdictions do not see urban agriculture as land use category as well. Water costs and the cost to build the garden also play a large factor.

While not in Ohio, Maryland had passed a policy which provided a 150,000 dollar grant for the designing of a “food hub industry” which included an urban farm and food pantry. A similar movement was also seen in Minnesota the District of Columbia, Washington, and Missouri.

As I research more on the topic at hand, I am inspired by the compassion and respect drawn from agricultural programs. I hope that as I work through this project, I too will be able to aid in communities like the farmers I admire most.


Works Cited:

Urban Agriculture: Findings from Four Case Studies

Urban Agriculture State Legislation 

Urban Agriculture, Composting, and Zoning 

The Causes of Inner City Poverty: Eight Hypotheses in Search of Reality 

Trump Wants to Slash Food Stamps and Replace Them With a “Blue Apron- Type Program ” 

Canned Food: Good or Bad

Urban Farms of Central Ohio



Sustainable Agriculture in Urban and Suburban Environments

There is a disconnect between the producer and the consumers in capitalized societies. This is especially true in the agricultural world. Once something that was central to the survival of humanity, agriculture has now been pushed out into rural communities, industrialized, or shipped overseas. However, there are many issues that can be related to this capitalization of the farming industry.

The most important issue that needs to be addressed is the desertification of inner city communities in regards to fresh produce. In fact, the Economic Research Service of the Department of Agriculture notes that 2.2% of Americans do not have a car and live a mile or more away from a supermarket. This lack of transportation and access to affordable healthy foods lead to childhood and adult obesity. The issue itself is being addressed at the governmental scale in Ohio.  The Cuyahoga Community Health Department chose one of their top initiatives as “Creating healthy food opportunities in areas of the county that are food insecure.”

While the actions being presented are amazing and should continue, this does not address the full problem in which I wish to understand. That problem is, how can one produce an environment, individually, that benefits their metal health, physical health, and reaps some sort of gain for the community.

To me, the answer has always been sustainable agriculture.

One of the root causes involving the lack of initiative in these food desert environments is lack of education on agriculture along with a lack of income. In many of these areas, the reason there are little to no shopping options is due entirely on the lack of income in the population. Furthermore, a lack of income stunts any willpower to go through with ideas such as urban farming to gardening in the backyard.

However, willpower and other mental health traits only increase when agriculture is introduced to a community. For example, the Community Food Centers noted an increase in social capital, improved use of leisure time, decrease in stress, increase in physical activity and consumption of fresh foods, and increased security in communities. Gardening has also become a largely therapeutic method in the mental health field and addiction recovery programs.

In regards to education, I hope to expand on the idea and promote growth in communities via the STEP program. During this time, I hope to bring agricultural education to inner city children and create a garden in which they are able to learn hands on.

Communal sustainable gardening follows the triple bottom line perfectly. Individuals in the community are brought together by a shared interest, the environment is made as healthy as possible to ensure plant growth, and finally the economic interests of individuals would be seen in the increase of fresh produce consumed in a once deserted community.

I have chosen this activity as I am deeply affected by food deserts and I am extremely passionate about food deserts.

Photos from UpCycle Farm- An Urban Farm I worked on


Works cited:

Food Deserts

Cuyahoga County Projects

Mental Health Benefits of Community Gardening 


Columbus To Do List Part One

Columbus is a large city, almost too large. I had never really thought about it until I looked at the Columbus To Do List. I had gotten so comfortable with the campus that Ohio State seemed to shrink in size.

The list reminded me just how expansive and opportunistic the city really was.

When we were told about the assignment originally, I wondered what list I would choose. I decided that I would simply pick places at random off the various lists that interested me. I did ponder the idea of doing only coffee shops for a bit, but realized my poor heart nor my wallet could handle that amount of caffeine. Anyways, mixing up the lists meant I had six reasons to leave campus rather than five.

Already I have gone out to a place on the list with my friends. During a hot “fall” day, my floor and I went to Graeter’s ice cream to explore off campus.

Getting to the store was an adventure in itself. We missed the first bus to take us there, we were uncertain where to stop, and we found ourselves walking for quite some time. My favorite moment of the trip was when we all passed a little girl’s kool-aid stand. All of us purchased a cup and I stepped aside to talk to the girl’s mother about how to style short hair. I wasn’t sure why she trusted me, I even said I don’t deal with hair. That’s why it’s all cut off.

The setting of Graeter’s itself was bland. A busy street overlooked the small building, and I felt slightly underwhelmed. Walking inside the building, I realized how hot I truly was as the air conditioning blew on my back. Inside was homely, albeit cramped, as we all stood side by side in the line. I was excited for ice cream.

I watched the room quietly and saw a young girl with her grandmother. It made me think of when my grandma took my brothers and me out for ice cream and I could not help but smile. It is the little things that make these experiences great.

When I reached the front of the line, I ordered a chocolate chocolate chip ice cream cone.

Maggie, Brietta and I went outside and sat in the shade of a tree. I absorbed the industrialized landscape and after awhile found myself lost in thought.

I suppose the experience overall was positive, the ice cream was good and my company was better. I certainly would recommend it to my friend’s when they come to visit. However, I am excited over the fact that I have so much exploration to do. That thought alone overshadows the experience of the ice cream shop.

Exploring is what I am most excited about and I am grateful to have the opportunity to call this project “homework.” I hope to find new areas to go to when I am feeling overwhelmed with classwork and with the bustle of campus. If there is one thing I have learned, Ohio State was not made with introverts in mind. I cannot wait to find an area off campus I could call my own and have a few moments to think to myself.

However, I think I am most excited to be touched by the little experiences people share when they are out in public.  I am excited to hold the door open and smile to strangers, to have a casual conversation while looking out the window of a coffee shop, or even enjoying the presence of people who also enjoy the beauty of nature.

It is not so much the location I am excited about but rather the experience and I cannot wait to truly get started.

My favorite buddies posing with some yummy ice cream


My Strengths

After taking the test to determine my top personality traits, I was amazed at how accurate such a test could be. It seemed unlikely that a handful of questions could determine the five most endearing characteristics that make me, well, me. Out of the twenty-four traits, my top five were shown on the bright colored page:

  • Humor
    • Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side; making (not necessarily telling) jokes.
  • Humility
    • Letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves; not regarding oneself as more special than one is.
  • Social Awareness
    • Being aware of the motives/feelings of others and oneself; knowing what to do to fit into different social situations; knowing what makes other people tick.
  • Love of Learning
    • Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one’s own or formally; related to the strength of curiosity but goes beyond it to describe the tendency to add systematically to what one knows.
  • Bravery
    • Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; speaking up for what’s right even if there’s opposition; acting on convictions even if unpopular; includes physical bravery but is not limited to it.

Is copy and pasting the quotes from the website academic misconduct? Just to be safe, I will note the URL at the bottom of the screen. All of this information has come from the VIA Institute on Character. (Better safe than sorry, calculus is taking up too much time to be fighting a legal battle.)

After looking at the entire list and understanding the different traits I was rated on, I realized that these five best described me. Not only that, but I enjoyed the placement of each trait. In fact, I was so excited to have humor in first place I shared it with all of my roommates (who said I would in fact get humor as my number one.) I also enjoy all of the other traits. I do not like to be boastful, I try to minimize my presence and make everyone feel comfortable around me, and I can be awfully brave if my morals are being threatened. However, that does not mean I am very confrontational. I am not. That just isn’t in me.

I think out of all of the traits, I enjoy using humor the most in my life. Humor is one of my favorite things in the world. Seeing my friends smile and hearing them laugh always brightens up my day.  While I also love to learn, I feel that it is not as applicable when understanding others. Humor is what makes the world go round and it keeps me from stressing over the little things. I think that is one of the biggest strengths I have learned throughout my years. Sometimes, it is better to laugh at a situation and move on.

I have never given much thought into organizing my personality traits. I would not know how. But now that I have such a list, I am content with the answers. To be honest, I feel as if moving a trait is dishonest to myself. No, this test does not describe me entirely as a person. Saying such a thing would be crazy. In fact, it has barely scratched the surface of who I am. However, to move around the order of the list generated after answering the questions honestly feels futile and I feel that this test is fairly accurate. Despite its limitations, the test did fairly well at understanding a few key traits about me.

Me laughing at my little angel. She was fed up because I dressed her in an, “I Love My Mommy” shirt.



[ “G.O.A.L.S.” is a place where students write about how their planned, current, and future activities may fit into the Honors & Scholars G.O.A.L.S.: Global Awareness, Original Inquiry, Academic Enrichment, Leadership Development, and Service Engagement. For more information, go to: Delete these instructions and add your own post.

Global Awareness: Students cultivate and develop their appreciation for diversity and each individual’s unique differences. For example, consider course work, study abroad, involvement in cultural organizations or activities, etc .
Original Inquiry: Honors & Scholars students understand the research process by engaging in experiences ranging from in-class scholarly endeavors to creative inquiry projects to independent experiences with top researchers across campus and in the global community. For example, consider research, creative productions or performances, advanced course work, etc.
Academic Enrichment: Honors & Scholars students pursue academic excellence through rigorous curricular experiences beyond the university norm both in and out of the classroom.
Leadership Development: Honors & Scholars students develop leadership skills that can be demonstrated in the classroom, in the community, in their co-curricular activities, and in their future roles in society.
Service Engagement: Honors & Scholars students commit to service to the community.]