Kale?  Arugula?  What’s the difference?  Emily McGinty certainly did not know when she arrived at Duke.  She knew she was ready to change her extracurricular involvement and stumbled across to the Duke Community Garden.  Her interest quickly grew into a passion for agricultural entrepreneurship and community building.

The Duke Campus Farm was created her sophomore year and Emily had a role in the planning and organization of this one-acre initiative.

Emily was the President of the Duke Food Project, an umbrella organization that oversees both the Farm and the Garden, for over two years. 

She led an Alternate Spring Break offering, Farm to Fork, where 20 students spent four days learning, in a hands-on environment, about food systems: production, processing, and distribution.  The experience included dinners with farmers to learn about their experiences and concluded with a Meals on Wheels service project.

Emily took classes at Duke related to food issues but claims that most of her education on this topic has developed in her working relationships with others.

In her role at the Campus Farm, she worked with peers in a food and energy course on client-based projects and problem-solving.  She has also facilitated students’ independent studies and senior theses in environmental science, philosophy, and public policy.  She has particularly enjoyed connecting undergraduate students with graduate and professional students and watching their mentoring relationships develop.

It seems that both the Community Garden and the Campus Farm break down barriers.  The negative labels of “entitled Duke students” and “unforgiving Durham residents” get whittled down to mentees and teachers, and then eventually evolve to neighbors and friends.

Emily is quick to assert that the success of the Garden and the Farm are not hers to claim, that they have been community efforts.  Her leadership in creating an inclusive environment, however, is undeniable.  Emily describes these arenas as unique spaces for students to explore new interests and to apply intellectual interests.  They are spaces for students who don’t necessarily fit the Duke mold.  They are spaces outside the Duke bubble for students to get their hands dirty.  They are spaces for students and community members to meet a diverse array of people who are not in their daily social circle.

Sounds like Emily has been cultivating a lot more than food.