Published on 01/05/21

Students awarded campus sustainability grants

By Josh Paine

A University of Georgia student-led project hopes to produce fruitful results with an edible landscape near Lake Herrick.

One of 13 annual Campus Sustainability Grants recently awarded to UGA students by the Office of Sustainability, the UGA Edible Landscape Project led by College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) student Abbie Dillon  — will install regionally appropriate fruiting trees and shrubs near Lake Herrick to provide experiential learning, on-site education and long-term fruit foraging opportunities for students and visitors.

“Edible landscaping is a fun yet impactful way to bring people closer to plants and the environment as well as allow easier access to free and nutritious food,” said Dillon, a horticulture major who serves as the urban agriculture intern with the Office of Sustainability. “They are super beneficial for pollinators and small wildlife too! If we're going to put plants in a landscape, why not use ones with delicious fruits attached?”

The landscape plan calls for adding plums, pawpaws, persimmons, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, figs and serviceberries. The project is under direction of Chris Swann in the UGA Facilities Management Division Grounds Department and project partners include the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and Sofia Franzluebbers, an undergraduate horticulture major.

Three other grant projects were awarded to CAES students.

Triple Impact Consulting: Sustainability Consulting for Athens Businesses was submitted by Sanisa Foungthong, an avian biology major in CAES, under the direction of Rick Watson in the Terry College of Business. The goal of the project is to provide pro bono, interdisciplinary, student-led sustainability consulting to help local businesses and organizations improve their sustainability metrics through project workstreams and the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. Project partners include B-Local Georgia and student collaborators Anjali Sindhuvalli, Andrew Schoppenhorst and Nathan Shear.

Swap Shop was submitted by Avery Lumsden, an undergraduate environmental economics and management major in CAES, under the direction of Tyra Byers in the Office of Sustainability. Lumsden is also the zero-waste intern for the office. The goal of the project is to reduce landfill waste and advance an equitable and circular economy in which students have opportunities to donate and freely receive supplies related to student life. Project partners include UGA Libraries, the Interdisciplinary Certificate in Sustainability, and student collaborator Jenna Franke who is pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in environmental economics.

The residential Community Garden Pilot Program was submitted by Abigail Lauterbach, an undergraduate environmental economics and management student in CAES, under the direction of Chera Jo Watts in UGA Housing. The project will serve as a circular food sustainability initiative for students in the Franklin Residential College, including a compost program and garden to enhance students’ relationships with the food they consume. Project partners include the Facilities Management Division Grounds Department and Casey Serrano, an undergraduate computer science student.

Drawn from the Student Green Fee, the sustainability grants of up to $5,000 are available to current UGA students who wish to initiate projects that advance sustainability through education, research, service and campus operations. They are awarded based on merit, positive impact, implementation feasibility and available funding.

Learn more about UGA’s commitment to sustainability and previous grant projects at

Josh Paine is a marketing specialist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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