The South Dakota State University Local Foods Education Center is a novel approach to addressing food security in South Dakota. The 1.2 acre outdoor classroom is located on Medary Avenue on the northern edge of the SDSU campus. It is fully dedicated to student and public teaching and learning, emphasizing hands-on field experience with small-scale food production and distribution practices.
The Local Foods Education Center is based on a foundation of student learning, ecosystem sustainability, and consumer access to a safe and stable food supply. There is increased public awareness of the source of the food we eat and the reliability of its safety. These are highly emotional issues for today’s consumers and are drivers of change. That is why local foods production has become a core of our horticulture curriculum.
Consumer demand for food that is locally produced, marketed, and consumed is generating increased interest throughout the United States. As interest grows, so do questions about modern production techniques and best management practices. Consumers who prefer locally grown food also care that it is grown in an environmentally acceptable manner. Students who use the Local Foods Education Center will learn organic production techniques, low-volume irrigation, and it will include habitat to support bees and butterflies.