Making An Impact When It Matters Most


Food insecurity is both a global and regional issue that has been greatly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, our fearless AGNR students have continued to show that they are more than up for the challenge by providing assistance to those who may be struggling to provide for themselves.

Kia Calloway from the Institute of Applied Agriculture (IAA) secured a summer internship at Terp Farm in Upper Marlboro, Md, through her advisor and IAA faculty member, Meredith Epstein, after a previous internship opportunity had fallen through. Terp Farm is run through a partnership between AGNR, Dining Services, and the Office of Sustainability. Calloway spent her time at the farm peeling garlic, harvesting onions, cleaning out the barn, weeding the squash field, cutting flowers, and making floral bouquets. All food grown at Terp Farm is currently being shipped to the UMD Campus Pantry to provide emergency relief to Terps who are food insecure.

“Terp Farm was an experience to remember,” said Calloway. “There was a lot of hard work involved, but helping my community was all worth it in the end.”

The internship was unexpected for Calloway, but her work did not go unnoticed. Epstein commented, “Kia stepped in to help at Terp Farm and the Campus Pantry at a crucial time when they were both shortstaffed and experiencing higher demand than ever.”

The pantry was also a focal point for dietetic interns in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science (NFSC), lending a hand to staff as food distribution volunteers. Students in the program have provided assistance to other local food banks as well, including Frederick County Farm to School, Manna Food Center, and Maryland Food Bank.

The pantry has also received much needed support from the UMD Community Learning Garden, located near the Eppley Recreation Center. Throughout the pandemic, all produce harvested there is donated to the pantry. It’s a great place for collaboration between the University Arboretum and Botanical Garden, led by IAA alum, Meg Smolinski, and AGNR students like Isabel Sánchez (IAA). Through the People, Planet & Profit: Digging into Sustainable Agriculture class taught by Epstein, students gain hands-on experience in gardening and more.

“My class and I were learning how to winterize the soil by clearing it of the summer crop, and adding clover as cover crop so it will be ready for planting in the spring,” said Sánchez.

Nina Jeffries, junior Environmental Science and Policy (ENSP) major, worked double duty at both the garden and as farm manager at Mona Center Urban Farm in Temple Hills, Md. The farm is dedicated to providing fresh produce, serving as a living classroom, and creating a community space for local residents to connect with free and healthy food.

“It has been such an incredibly rewarding experience to work at the farm, and many AGNR students get involved with this farm and others in our area,” said Jeffries. “It’s great to know that we are able to use our skill sets and knowledge to help make an impact now when it’s needed most.”

By Andrew Muir