By Stori Long
Despite adverse weather conditions and sudden venue changes, the Baylor population and the Waco community came to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the dedication ceremony of the Baylor Community Garden.
The garden represents a collaborative effort between Baylor students and the Waco community, including such groups as Campus Kitchen, Urban Garden Coalition, Waco Arts Initiative, the Office of Sustainability, the environmental studies department and the family and consumer science department.
“I feel like this is one of the more progressive moves toward community engagement because we pulled in such a broad array of partners,” said Amanda Allen, project manager of Baylor Interdisciplinary Poverty Initiative. “I’m really excited that we have art majors, nutrition majors, environmental majors … all serving the community together.”
The purpose of the garden is to improve nutritional outcomes for youth, enhance classroom experiences for Baylor students, serve as a demonstration and learning site for schools, encourage healthy lifestyles and strengthen ties to the community, according to a university press release.
The garden will provide an outdoor classroom for Baylor students while producing food to be given back to the community.
The produce will be used by Campus Kitchen Project, which delivers rescued food and homemade meals to Salvation Army and the Family Abuse and Crisis Center in Waco.
Although the garden is located at Ninth Street and Bagby Avenue, the dedication ceremony was moved to the SUB Den on the first floor of the Bill Daniel Student Center due to muddy conditions.
The ceremony opened with a welcome by Rosemary Townsend, the director of Community Partnership and Business Affairs, and a prayer from Kelly Baker BA ‘06, MSW ‘08, a Hunger Alleviation Volunteer in Service to America.
President Ken Starr began the dedication by appealing to the legacy and memory of King. The president made reference to the commemorative worship service held in Miller Chapel on Sunday.
The Rev. Jimmy Hunter, pastor of Toliver Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, led the service which was sponsored by the School of Social Work, George W. Truett Theological Seminary and the religion department. Hunter exhorted those at the service to not only share King’s dream, but to keep that dream alive and to be stewards of that dream by continuing in King’s legacy of service.
Starr dedicated the garden to the mission of furthering the values of service, education, sustainability and to setting the example of “society at its best, when university and community come together.”
The garden was envisioned as the center of community by those involved with its creation.
“Because all of these people are at the table, it’s an awesome image of the beloved community,” Allen said. “The university should not be separate from the community, it should be serving the community and engaging the community in what they are studying.”
As the garden has progressed from idea to reality, this hope of engaging Baylor students with the community has become a reality.
“None of this would have been possible without the Baylor students,” Townsend said. “They had the passion and the energy, they made it happen.”
Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream of a united community dedicated to serving one another, an idea that will hopefully be promoted by the creation of this garden.
“What’s so cool is that [King] was all about service,” Baker said. “And that’s the whole purpose of the garden.”