SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Girl Scout Troop 1344 stood in a circle at Hub City Urban Farm, each sixth-grader wearing a different sticker on her T-shirt that identified her as a particular part of the ecosystem (sun, water, rock, lettuce, birds). Ignoring the steaming midday temperatures, they gleefully passed around a ball of orange rope and considered their interconnected roles in the complex web being formed.
“Lettuce needs water to grow,” said one girl, handing the rope to another.
Leading the lesson was Izzy Goodchild-Michelman ’23, who instructed the scout acting as “water” to let go of her part of the rope. It caused the entire web to lose its shape.
“Everything starts to fall apart in the ecosystem even if just one part disappears,” Goodchild-Michelman said.
The activity, followed by a scavenger hunt and an erosion-solution engineering challenge, was part of Goodchild-Michelman’s project for Service Starts with Summer, the College’s new initiative for incoming first-years to engage in their own communities before starting their College careers. The 18-year-old South Carolina native spent six weeks working for the farm, revamping the educational Seed to Table curriculum that serves elementary and middle-school students.
“I love South Carolina, but there are a lot of things we need to work on in our educational system. There’s really a lack of funding,” she said. “I experienced that to some extent … but I was able to get reinforcement outside of the classroom. Not every kid is that lucky.”
For Seed to Table, Goodchild-Michelman paired her lifelong love of environmental science with a growing interest in food insecurity. Northern Spartanburg County is a food desert, and Meg Whiteley, Hub City Urban Farm’s manager and Goodchild-Michelman’s supervisor, said some impoverished residents need to take multiple buses about 90 minutes just to get to a grocery store.
“For a lot of the residents here in a low-income bracket, they are reliant on walking or buses. To get to one they have to change buses three times so if you’re talking about buying fresh produce or frozen food or cold meats, it’s not feasible. To have a varied diet with those limitations is really a struggle. That’s one of the reasons we’re here.”