We’ve all heard about the beach week and trips to Mexico during spring break, but have you heard about alternative spring break? During my time as a freshman I heard about a student org called MAC ASB which brings together student leaders that are ready to get out of their comfort zone and explore a community like never before.

Rachel’s experience

It was so amazing seeing how well my participants got along with the different communities we visited as well as the team we worked with at the garden. Not only did we all visit some amazing homeless shelters and other non profits helping the community of Southbend, we also got to learn some gardening tricks. We learned how important fresh, healthy foods were to this community and just how we could transfer what we learned back to our respective communities. It was truly an experience I am thankful for having. Other than working in the garden and visiting other nonprofits, we also got a tour of Southbend and learned the town’s history. That really put into perspective the town’s issues they are currently facing.

This picture was from when we were on the local news and got to meet one of the garden’s goats. He was a lot of fun!

We learned how to properly hold chickens!

We even learned the best technique for raking dirt!

Andy’s Experience 

Everyone comes from a different background coming into college. Although there were times when my family struggled to pay the bills, I am grateful that I always had a roof to sleep under and nutritional meals made everyday. My alternative spring break trip opened my eyes to the beautiful community that is South Bend, Indianna. The city and people are doing amazing things to feed their community with healthy and locally sourced goods. We worked with Unity Gardens throughout the week and had multiple opportunities to get down and dirty in the dirt and prep for the next planting season. Unity Gardens not only grows and provides fresh goods to the community for free, but they also offer courses at a local school to educate the community on how to be sustainable and grow their own gardens. What made the trip so special was the chance to visit facilities that offered transitional housing. People end up in such facilities for a variety of reasons, and many times, it’s not their fault. Having the opportunity to sit down and eat a meal, I learned valuable lessons and made deep connections. Everyone is similar in some way or form, we are just borned with different circumstances or had struggles throughout our lives. This shouldn’t stop us from showing kindness when possible and giving back to a community that has always been there for us. Through the dialogues with many of the non profit organizations in South Bend, I plan to take the lessons and values with me through my life and educate others on the importance of eating healthy and giving back. Leading this trip with Rachel made the experience that much more enriching as we were able to lead many of the conversations/ reflections after each long day of work. 

If there’s any questions about our experience or anything that we talked about, please reach out at yeandy@umich.edu and rgarabed@umich.edu . We would love to make connections! :) 

While working in the garden, we had a thing where we tried to save every worm that we encountered and named them :)

Half of us were wheelbarrow-ers while the other half loaded the barrels with soil. We moved these across the garden to be used in the actual plots to grow seeds!

This picture was taken at Cultivate where they rescue food (mostly from Notre Dame after their football games or from their dining halls). A thorough process is done to make sure the food is safe to repackage and redistributed into the community.