Sunday, May 1, 2011

New offensive strategy: Grow okra

Sweet revenge for all those who believe academic programs are too focused on athletics: A small college in Dallas has transformed its "hallowed field" into hallowed ground of a different type, one capable of helping to feed the surrounding community. The gridiron has given way to a garden between the goalposts. Their new mascot? The "fighting okra," according to a delightful article by Mark Wynne, a food activist, writer and author of Closing the Food Gap. (For more about him, visit

Read his article

Some of the food the students now grow is served at Cowboys Stadium as well as at the city's restaurants, on campus and through nonprofit hunger programs. Eventually, they want to add an on-site store and a farmers market. These attributes are being used as broader learning tools; the garden also anchors a class in "social entrepreneurship." The college president says the goal isn't to turn students into farmers but into problem-solvers, something a life in agriculture helped forge in our country's bedrock generations.

Apparently schools all over the country have been contacting Paul Quinn's mentor, Yale University, about starting similar programs, so this idea is like a thriving bed of strawberries, sending out loads of vigorous runners.

(Read the Associated Press story at