Prior to my semester abroad, I took an FYP about food writing my freshman year simply because it was a requirement. This course ended up being my favorite course at St. Lawrence, and it inspired me to research more about food inequalities and food deserts. I became interested in how healthy food accessibility varies from community to community. For my semester abroad, I received a travel grant which allowed me to travel around the entire South Island of New Zealand, researching their various methods to combat food inequalities.
With the travel grant, I was able to take transportation services to several locations all around the South Island and interview farmers and community garden owners and volunteers to gain a better understanding of the impact of local agriculture on specific communities. I was able to ask them questions like, based on food insecurity on the South Island, what food products reach the locals? Or how does New Zealand combat hunger? And what are organizations in New Zealand doing to help? These types of questions connect to a larger investigation involving the world’s growing problem of food inequality and injustice. I was then able to take all my research and compile it using a journalistic approach. I catalogued all of my interviewee’s responses and created a digital narrative to recount these farmers and garden owners’ stories.
An experiential approach to my journalism project placed me directly in the middle of the research required to fulfill the analysis of New Zealand’s anti-hunger efforts. This hands-on experience allowed me to participate in the community gardens in and around Dunedin, New Zealand and gave me invaluable knowledge that I was able to apply to my digital narrative project.
From this experience, I gained an understanding of New Zealand’s cultural values and agricultural practices. This hands-on experience afforded me invaluable knowledge and personal interaction with individuals who are passionate for food equality. It was essential that I experienced the reality of community gardens on the South Island at first hand to pragmatically evaluate the contribution of community gardens to the decrease in food inequality.