What is Stewardship Science?

Stewardship Science is environmental research that combines scientific discovery with community service. “Stewardship” is often used to refer to human management of nature. Here, we use the term to define activities that enrich human communities by strengthening their connection to natural systems. Stewardship Science aims to generate results that impact the field of environmental science while at the same time creating products that help members of our community.

Our initial Stewardship Science projects illustrate this connection between environmental research and community service. The UST Stewardship Garden, our flagship project, has explored how conventional vs. organic fertilizer influences the effect of crop diversity on yield. The project is set in a community garden, and over 2000 lbs. of produce has been donated to local food shelves since the project’s inception in 2011. The Corner Store Procurement Project combines research on worm composting and crop yields with service to the Minneapolis Healthy Corner Store Initiatives, which aims to increase access to fresh vegetables in low-income neighborhoods. The Helpful Flowers project is using wildflowers to test whether plant biodiversity can increase uptake of harmful toxins from local soils; control plants (grown in uncontaminated soils on the UST campus) will be donated to local retirement homes. The Straw Bale Bounty project is testing how efficiency and yield from straw bale farming compares to outcomes from alternative practices; produce from this project will also be donated to food shelves. Finally, the Worm Regards project is testing how worm use influence rates and chemical composition of compost; compost from this project will be donated to local community gardens in low income neighborhoods.

Together, these projects aim to address environmental problems, provide community service, and engage students and community members. We are very interested in forging connections with community organizers, gardeners, teachers, artists, and other citizens that are interested in building a more just and environmentally sustainable community. We think there are numerous ways to expand the Stewardship Science program, and we welcome collaborators interested in making a difference.

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Questions? Send them to adam kay (adkay@stthomas.edu)

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