Transition Eugene helps connect people with local foods

What does it mean to get personal with your food?

To Heather Christensen, student and co-coordinator of Transition Eugene, it means getting dirty.

Transition Eugene is a campaign run by the University of Oregon’s Climate Justice League that encourages students and members of the community to learn more about the food they’re eating and connect with each other in the process. To accomplish this, members of Climate Justice League help build gardens, hand out plants and herbs, and coordinate ways to bring local food to campus.

“I really hope that Transition Eugene helps bridge the gap between the school and the community as well as people and food in general,” said Christensen. “I want everyone to love food more and know where it comes from and be aware of what they’re eating.”

The campaign began in fall 2013, originally established to make a map of where to buy local food on campus. It evolved into visiting peoples’ backyards and helping them build gardens.

“We really enjoy getting dirty and hands-on, straight-action kind of activism,” said Christensen. “We’re a very grassroots organization.”

Members of Climate Justice League have helped two students and two members of the Eugene community build gardens so far, filled with ingredients that the garden owners chose. These vary from kale and tomatoes to squash and peas. This broad spectrum allows for gardens to be active year round.

“This year is hopefully going to be more effective and we’ll cover more ground,” said student and co-coordinator Dana Greenblatt.

Although the owners of the garden currently purchase their own seeds, members of Climate Justice League hope to start a fund in which money raised can be used to buy seeds for people with low income.

On Jan. 22nd, local brewery Ninkasi is holding an Earth-themed open mic night and part of the proceeds are going towards the Transition Eugene campaign. Climate Justice League will also be in attendance, handing out window garden kits for donations. Each kit will include basil, cilantro and chives.

“We’re trying to teach people the importance of local food and how to grow it themselves,” said student and co-coordinator, Adair Creach. “We’re just trying to make local food easier and more in the forefront of people’s minds.”

Aside from building gardens, Transition Eugene is hoping to get a drop box farmer’s market on campus through Lane Local Foods. A drop box farmer’s market is a set up where people can go online (in this case, and order the produce they want. Farmers would then deliver those foods to a specific location where Lane Local Foods can then transport those foods somewhere on campus for students to pick them up.

Christensen said that by knowing where certain foods come from, people’s relationship with their food will be strengthened.

“Food is a basic human need and it has a way of connecting people. You sit down and have a meal with someone–you cook together,” she said. “It’s a very intimate thing.”

Climate Justice League welcomes all students to their meetings on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. in Anstett 191.

“Anyone who is interested even at the most basic level can join. I would love for them to do that and see if it’s a passion for them, too,” said Creach. “We get to play in the mud all the time and it gives people food. That’s about as cool as it gets.”

Transition Eugene will continue until the end of spring term.

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Anna Lieberman

Anna Lieberman

Anna is currently a news reporter for the Emerald.