Pellissippi State launches sustainable garden, food pantry

Annie Gray
Annie Gray, program coordinator of Service-Learning at Pellissippi State, shows off lettuce grown in the Hardin Valley Campus Garden.

Pellissippi State Community College is building on a history of sustainability and service with a new campus garden and food pantry.

The garden, which is located on the Hardin Valley Campus, is not only an outdoor education and community service hub, but a supplier of local produce to the college cafeteria. A significant portion of the food produced will help low-income students at Pellissippi State.

“What makes this project unique is not only the sustainability aspect, but the emphasis on providing for students in need and educating them about healthy food choices amid real concerns about poverty,” said Annie Gray, Service-Learning coordinator and leader of this project.

The Hardin Valley Campus Garden will complement a new food pantry that will support college students who struggle with chronic hunger issues. Most of the garden’s produce — 75 percent — will supplement the food distributed through this new Pellissippi Pantry, which also will partner with Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee.

The remaining food from the garden will supplement Hardin Valley Campus cafeteria food offerings, available to anyone.

The Pellissippi Pantry will be available on all five Pellissippi State campuses in Knox and Blount counties. It will offer qualified students healthy packaged and fresh food, as well as nutrition education. It will launch for at-risk students this summer.

Research shows there’s a need for this type of outreach. A 2015 study out of the University of Wisconsin has shown that, nationally, about 52 percent of community college students experience ongoing food insecurity, or the inability to readily access healthy or nutritious food. Atlantic magazine has reported that 22 percent of community college students nationwide reported they’d gone hungry due to a lack of money.

Pellissippi Pantry will operate on a basis of confidentiality. Students will be identified to workers only by an ID and will be able to discreetly pick up food at a pre-specified time and location.

Pellissippi State has a history of launching sustainable and service-oriented gardens. In partnership with other local organizations, the college opened the Pond Gap Elementary School community garden in 2013 as part of the Service-Learning program. That community garden has been a widely-regarded success in enhancing curriculum and after-school programs and providing healthy food for Pond Gap students and their families.

For more information about how to support the Pellissippi Pantry or the Hardin Valley Campus Garden, contact the Pellissippi State Foundation at or call 865-694-6528. For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call 865-694-6400.


Download this news release: PSCC Garden Pantry

Pellissippi State hosts permaculture expert Peter Bane for lecture

Where is your next meal coming from?

Not a question of poverty but a statement about food security, it’s the topic of discussion when permaculture expert Peter Bane visits Pellissippi State Community College for an upcoming lecture.

The free presentation is 12:30-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3. It takes place in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The event is open to the community.

“The implications of the humble garden and of local food are far-reaching,” said Bane, author of “The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country.”

“Permaculture” refers to the concept of agricultural ecosystems designed to be sustainable and self-sufficient. Bane, a frequent lecturer and speaker, promotes urban and suburban “garden farming,” which may include vegetable gardens, tree crops, and even animal husbandry.

“From up in the atmosphere to down on the table,” he said, “I’ll speak about how permaculture, climate security and food security are things that impact everyone, every day. Considering the question ‘Where is my next meal coming from?’ is something that will make our food access safer and more secure in the future.”

Bane’s presentation is part of Pellissippi State’s ‘Good Food For All’ yearlong campaign. The campaign encourages civic engagement regarding food access issues through the college’s Service-Learning program and Sustainable Campus Initiative.

“Permaculture is all about working with nature and not against it,” said Annie Gray, Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning director. “On a practical level, it’s about harmonizing landscape design—urban or rural—with the daily lives of human beings who need secure access to food, shelter, energy, and income.”

“With climate and energy challenges in front of us, knowing how to provide basic human needs as close to home as possible is becoming increasingly important,” said Chad Hellwinckel, founder of Knoxville’s Permaculture Guild, which is sponsoring the Pellissippi State event. “Permaculture gives insight on how to let natural forces work for us instead of battling them.”

Gray, Hellwinckel and Bane say they hope the presentation will be beneficial to attendees, whether or not they’re interested in gardening, who want to learn more about the benefits of local, healthful food.

Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning program integrates community service with traditional classroom learning. The Sustainable Campus Initiative pioneers sustainable projects on all five Pellissippi State campuses. Together, the groups plan to put permaculture design into practice at a garden on the Hardin Valley Campus.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State, community partners team up for ‘Good Food For All’

3 people around some vegetables.
Pellissippi State Community College students, from left, Juls Jackson, Roxmin Lakhani and Cindy Lozano help harvest food at the Pond Gap Elementary School community garden. Pellissippi State founded the garden in 2013.

This fall, Pellissippi State Community College begins a year of collaboration with five area partners working on community school support and food access outreach projects.

The college’s Service-Learning program, with support from the Sustainable Campus Initiative, kicks off the “Good Food For All” campaign during Civic Engagement Week, Sept. 10-17.

“This project is upping the ante on Pellissippi State’s connections to the community and our outreach into poverty alleviation and education efforts outside our campuses,” said Annie Gray, Service-Learning coordinator.

“We will be working to create awareness of East Tennessee challenges to food security and good nutrition. Through these projects, we’ll connect Pellissippi State students and employees with community service opportunities. Together, we’ll support volunteer programming and nutrition initiatives in Knoxville’s new community schools—initiatives that are already under way to combat food security issues.”

During Civic Engagement Week, Pellissippi State will host events and speakers tied in to food access, sustainability, and community service. The week will include lectures and skill sharing on food security, organic gardening, permaculture, and careers in sustainability, food, agriculture, and human sciences. There will be harvesting events and speakers on topics as varied as Knoxville’s food scene and the agrarian heritage of the United States.

“We want to showcase opportunities for service in ways that relate to food, like community gardens, and stoke students’ fire for education as we spotlight career paths in sustainability, local food and agriculture, nutrition education, human sciences, and more,” Gray said.

But Civic Engagement Week is just the beginning.

Good Food For All continues throughout the year through the work of five AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers, funded by a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The VISTA volunteers will work at five area sites in poverty alleviation projects as they relate to food access and nutritional awareness. Elias Attea will work with Pond Gap Elementary, a participant in the University-Assisted Community Schools Program; Nicole Lewis, with Knoxville’s Great Schools Partnership; Caley Hyatt, with Knoxville-Knox County’s Food Policy Council; Jeremy Roberts, with the University of Tennessee-Tennessee State University Extension-Knox County; and Jennifer Hurst, with Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee. 

“Food is a great place to start with the college’s poverty alleviation outreach projects,” said Gray, “because it is common ground we all share: we all need food, we all understand food. Sharing more knowledge about food gives people more power over their food supply; this bridges socioeconomic and demographic differences. There are a lot of community outreach and academic opportunities here.”

Through the CNCS grant, Pellissippi State will pay for one AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer’s time for the year. The five community partners will donate a portion of the funding for the four additional VISTA workers, and CNCS will cover the rest. VISTA volunteers are paid at the poverty level during their year of balance 759

The community partnerships of Good Food For All are building on the foundation of Pellissippi State’s community garden at Pond Gap Elementary School. The garden has been used to grow food for the community, has served as an educational tool for the schoolchildren at Pond Gap and has been a place for Pellissippi State students to volunteer time in service. 

AmeriCorps VISTA was founded in 1965 as a national service program dedicated to fighting poverty. Pellissippi State’s Service-Learning program allows students and faculty to integrate meaningful community service and reflection with more traditional learning experiences, with the underlying goals of teaching civic responsibility and strengthening communities. 

For more information about Pellissippi State or the Service-Learning program, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State introduces Sustainable Design concentration

At Pellissippi State Community College, “sustainability” is more than just a buzzword. It’s an educational pursuit.

This fall, students can enroll in the Engineering Technology degree program with a concentration in Sustainable Design. The curriculum is offered at the college’s Hardin Valley and Strawberry Plains campuses.

“Sustainable design practices seek to minimize the negative environmental impact of buildings,” said Greg Armour, who teaches in Engineering and Media Technologies. “We can enhance living and working spaces while still reducing the consumption of nonrenewable resources.
new balance jobs
“Students will learn a holistic approach to design that considers life-cycle costs such as building efficiency and energy. The idea of sustainability, or ecological design, is to ensure that our actions today don’t inhibit the opportunities of future generations.”

Sustainable Design is open to all Pellissippi State students interested in pursuing Engineering Technology. It is also part of the curriculum at the new Knox County Schools Career Magnet Academy, which opened this month at the college’s Strawberry Plains Campus. Sustainable Design is one of eight pathways from which the high school students can choose.

The concentration is useful for students interested in the construction industry and in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification exam, as well as for students interested in fields as wide-ranging as business, consulting, and science. The curriculum includes topics such as passive solar design, construction techniques, site selection and design, building information modeling software, and LEED sustainability concepts.
nike outlet wrentham
“The Sustainable Design concentration offers a great foundation of the most essential ideas for those who wish to be an agent of change,” said Armour, who is an architect and LEED accredited professional.

Students who complete the Sustainable Design coursework at Pellissippi State earn a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree. The 60-hour concentration includes classroom and open-lab time.

The Sustainable Design concentration checklist is available online.

For more information about Engineering Technology or other degree programs at Pellissippi State, visit or call (865) 694-6400.

1 2