Food and Nutrition Education Grows Through Nationally Recognized MSU Learning Garden Design Project

Contact: Vanessa Beeson

MSU Associate Professor Cory Gallo sets up a trellis in the garden at Galloway Elementary School in Jackson. (Photo by Drew Dempsey)

STARKVILLE, Mississippi — Mississippi State students studying landscape architecture, architecture, and graphic design bring home a national honor for their Learning Garden Concept.

An inter-university consortium of MSU students conceptualized a suite of garden designs aimed at helping schools create learning gardens based on their educational needs. The Fair: A Free Learning Garden with a Focus on Health, Food and Nutrition Education received an Honorary Student Collaboration Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects, or ASLA. The team, which included 10 landscape architecture students, 10 architecture students and a graphic design student, was recognized at the company’s recent virtual conference.

Cory Gallo, associate professor of landscape architecture at MSU at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, served as the group’s educational advisor.

“For the fifth time since 2012, the design / build studio has won a National Design Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects. Many of these awards have been presented in collaboration with professors and students of architecture and graphic design, including the most recent, ”said Gallo. “The company chose only 35 awards out of 560 applicants this year. This recognition is a continuing testament to the unique inter-university process underway in the State of Mississippi over the past decade. “

A set photo of the Galloway Elementary School Learning Garden in Jackson shows concrete trellises and benches among its structures.
The concrete benches included in the garden at Galloway Elementary School in Jackson are among the first applications of rapid three-dimensional concrete printing in the United States. Each six-foot-long bench was printed by Pikus Concrete, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Drew Dempsey)

Gallo explained that the garden concept was further illustrated in two proof-of-concept designs, one which was installed at Galloway Elementary School in Jackson and the other which is expected to be installed at the District Partnership School. Starkville Oktibbeha School at MSU in Spring 2021.

“The team worked with educators and stakeholders to tailor the design to the individual needs of each site. For example, the garden at Galloway Elementary School emphasized a large teaching space aligned with five themes, including math, science, and art, allowing teachers to use the garden for almost all subjects. This ensures that the garden will be used not only for food education, but as an integral part of the classroom, ”said Gallo.

Hans Herrmann, MSU associate professor in the School of Architecture at the College of Architecture, Art and Design, said the students benefited from the collaborative hands-on experience.

“The first-hand feedback of trying to build what was previously just an idea is something that traditional classroom teaching cannot come close to. Material supply issues, site conditions, transport logistics, tools and equipment all become important once you get to the site and realize that you are the one who has to do the job, ”he said. he declared.

Herrmann said he was proud of how multiple disciplines came together, including MSU alumni, to bridge areas of expertise and experience gaps.

“The work of these projects is not limited to the hours spent on the ground building and installing the gardens. It’s about building the team, taking responsibility for key components and working with other Mississippi organizations to make the state we call home even better for the next generation, ”he said. he declares.

In addition to the national award, the project was featured in a chapter of “Design-Build: Integrating Craft, Service, and Research through Applied Academic Practice”, a textbook by University of Washington professor of landscape architecture Daniel Winterbottom which was published by Routledge this year.

In addition to Gallo and Herrmann, Associate Professor Suzanne Powney in the Graphic Design Concentration of the Department of Arts advised the graphic design student on the project. Associate Professor Ryan Walker of the College of Education’s Curriculum, Teaching and Special Education Department was also consulted on the project.

Contributors included The Fertile Ground Project, a Jackson-based program inspiring dialogue on access to food; JH&H Architects in Flowood; Utah Pikus Concrete; and significant developments in Pennsylvania. MSU’s Starkville Oktibbeha School District Partnership School garden is funded by a grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation.

To learn more about the ASLA National Award, visit and scroll down to the Student Collaboration category.

For more information on the MSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, visit For more information on the university’s College of Architecture, Art and Design, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s premier university, available online at

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