Saint Martin’s Harvie Social Justice Lecture to focus on local farming, sustainability and food justice

April 7, 2014

Image alt text

LACEY, Wash. – From an upswell of urban farms and community gardens to a call for rethinking whole food access in low-income neighborhoods and the elimination of soft drinks in school cafeterias, food justice is a movement that seeks to transform the current American food system from the ground up.

Join Saint Martin’s University’s faculty members Robert Hauhart and Irina Gendelman as they welcome Thurston County-based food sustainability leaders Kerensa Mabwa from GRuB, Fred Colvin from Colvin Ranch, T.J. Johnson from Sustainable South Sound and Sue Ujcic from Helsing Junction Farm as they discuss their roles in local food production and how their work contributes to sustainability and equitable food production.

This next installment of the Saint Martin’s University Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series will take place April 22 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 110 of the University’s Harned Hall.

The evening will include a 7:15 p.m. screening of Growing Cities: A film about urban farming in America, a 97-minute documentary by Nebraskan filmmakers Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette. The film follows Susman and Monbouquette as they travel across America meeting "men and women who are challenging the way this country grows and distributes its food, one vacant city lot, rooftop garden and backyard chicken coop at a time." A question-and-answer session with the panel will begin at 8:30 p.m.

Hauhart, Ph.D., J.D., creator of the lecture series and chair of the University’s Department of Society and Social Justice, is hosting this event with the collaboration and support of Gendelman, associate professor of communication and instructional designer, as well as the Saint Martin’s University Learning Garden and the Saint Martin’s Women’s Studies Program.

Following is information about the panelists:

Kerensa Mabwa, GRuB
Mabwa leads GRuB’s Community-based Fundraising, Special Events and Volunteer Coordination Programs. She comes to GRuB with passions for good local food, gardening and building relationships across multicultural backgrounds. She has about 15 years of experience in the nonprofit world, including the fields of parenting and child welfare, affordable housing and grant writing, and project evaluation and management. With Mabwa’s international background and passion for inspiring cross-cultural learning, much of her past work has been spent helping people to live successful and sustainable lives through empowerment and inclusivity.

Fred Colvin, Colvin Ranch
Colvin operates Colvin Ranch, his family-owned and -operated cattle ranch located in south Thurston County, Washington, near the small town of Tenino. The ranch was homesteaded by Ignatius Colvin, who came to Washington on the Oregon Trail in 1851 from Boone County, Missouri, and is one of the oldest ranches in the county still owned by the original family. Five generations later, the Colvin Ranch family heritage continues through humane livestock handling, stewardship of the land and sustainable grazing practices that allow native and endangered plants to flourish alongside the family’s high-quality, all-natural cattle.

T.J. Johnson, Sustainable South Sound
Johnson is a former union organizer and shop steward who established and ran a successful bed-and-breakfast, was a founder and long-time president of the Upper Eastside Neighborhood Association and served as a citizen representative on several city advisory committees. He’s a past member of the Garden Raised Bounty (GRuB) Board of Directors, and the founder of Beyond Hiroshima, a grassroots anti-nuclear education and advocacy organization. He was a featured speaker at the 2006 Japan Peace Conference and a member of the World Peace Forum International Advisory Committee. In 2006, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility awarded him the prestigious Paul Beeson Peace Prize for “his extraordinary leadership towards a world free of nuclear weapons and war.” Johnson also served for six years on the Olympia City Council, chairing the Finance Committee and the Intercity Transit Authority, and was a passionate advocate for a more sustainable community and a more peaceful world.

Sue Ujcic, Helsing Junction Farm
Ujcic is co-founder, along with Annie Salafsky, of Helsing Junction Farm. Both are graduates of The Evergreen State College and have deep roots in agriculture. The farm began as a 75-member CSA and, over the years, has expanded to its current size of 1,200 shareholders. The partnership between the two women has grown to include their families, as well as the families of the people who work with them. It’s a group effort now, with great pride taken in the health and fertility of the soil, as well as the beauty of the produce grown.

Hauhart created the Harvie lecture series, now in its ninth year, to raise awareness of social justice issues within the community. The series honors the work of Robert A. Harvie, J.D., former professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at Saint Martin’s.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 23 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 300 more undergraduate students to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Centralia College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at

For additional information:

Robert Hauhart, Ph. D., J.D.
Chair, Department of Society and Social Justice

Irina Gendelman
Associate professor, communication and instructional designer

Meg Nugent Dwyer
Media relations manager