Alumni Profiles Articles

Alumni Profiles – Bethany Paetkau (CMU ’11)

IDS grad planting urban gardens

If there’s one thing Bethany Paetkau learned at CMU, it’s that people are at heart of the solution to every major issue affecting the world. With that in mind, she’s taking on the issue of food security.

Paetkau, who graduated from CMU with a four-year BA in International Development Studies in April 2011, became employed after graduation with A Rocha, a Christian environmental organization that runs ecological conservation projects around the world. Paetkau spent her summer teaching low-income Winnipeggers how to plant urban gardens and how to cook and preserve the fresh produce.

It may seem like a low-key response to a global food crisis (food prices around the world increased by 25 per cent in 2010), but it fits with Paetkau’s grassroots, people-focused philosophy of development.

“We’re asking the question: How do we live sustainably? And one piece of that is to garden,” she says.

Working together with inner city residents and St. Margaret’s Anglican Church, Paetkau and her co-workers grew kale, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, green beans, dill, chives, strawberries, and other nutritious vegetables in public garden plots and next to the homes of people who volunteered their yards.

Small-scale, sustainable agriculture has been one of Paetkau’s interests ever since she took a class on creation care at CMU. Paetkau likes the fact that projects such as the urban garden empower people by giving them access to better, healthier food.