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The Daily Tar Heel

Q&A with new Edible Campus coordinator Laura Mindlin

Laura Mindlin is the new initiative coordinator for Edible Campus. 

Laura Mindlin is the new initiative coordinator for Edible Campus. 

Edible Campus, the on-campus group that provides landscaping and edible gardens around campus, hired a new Initiative Coordinator, Laura Mindlin. Staff writer Danielle Bush spoke with Mindlin about her new position and the organization’s goals.

The Daily Tar Heel: What responsibilities does your new position entail?

Laura Mindlin: Emily (Auerbach) started this Edible Campus initiative program where there are satellite sites and partnerships, commuter gardens and food gardens and medicinal plant gardens throughout campus and I am going to be coordinating all of these. This includes all aspects of it, so maintaining the plots and if we need new tools and making sure everything is running smoothly.

I will also be working on the logistical side, so we will be looking for fundraising grants so we can continue to expand this program, build new partnerships and have more people utilizing the edible landscaping that’s on UNC’s campus.

DTH: How did you hear about this position? What did the application process look like?

LM: I must have seen the application probably through UNC’s job fairs. I just moved here to Durham originally for a summer job and then moved to Carrboro kind of because there were a lot of cool initiatives going on here not with a job in place. I would just scroll through UNC’s job postings, and I saw this and thought, ‘This seems too good to be true, that’s exactly the work I was doing.’

I then applied and from that point I got in touch with a few different people who were part of the initiative, and I learned more about it, and it seemed like a really incredible position. It was a nice way to get integrated into the community here.

DTH: What do you hope to contribute to Edible Campus? What expertise can you offer to the project?

LM: I did a lot of similar type of work at Skidmore College in upstate New York, a lot of work on our campus there, so I kind of have an idea of what’s valuable to students and what you want as a student. I think there is a lot of value of having people interacting with nature and understanding what from bees to medicinal plants to food you can grow like being immersed in a process, and so I’ve learned that from the school side.

Also, since I’ve worked on farms and worked on farmland and with farmland conservation, worked with medicinal plants and herbal medicine, and I’m just really excited about it. I think there is so much potential to create more working landscapes and for more people to understand and appreciate where their food comes from and what the Earth can provide for us. A college setting is a really cool place to do this.

DTH: What are some of the goals of the organization this year?

LM: I think (UNC) will be a really great academic resource and an extracurricular resource, and I’m hoping to fully utilize all of it. From classes to clubs, student individual research, I’d like to really have the incredible landscape around us being incorporated into those aspects. I also think it could be a really great model for other universities and other community spaces. Gardens are really unique places to have collaboration and autonomy, and it’s really healthy especially in college years.

DTH: What is your favorite part about being on the Edible Campus team?

LM: I am really excited. I think it’s really wonderful to see the collaboration between the community and students and the botanical gardens, and we’re inevitably going to have people of different generations coming to help and just to be facilitating that is a huge honor, and I’m so grateful for this opportunity.

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