As most University of Colorado seniors spend their last days of college studying for finals and preparing for graduation, soon-to-be-graduate Bryant Mason is making time for a little gardening during his final days.
Tuesday, Mason joined other members of CU Going Local -- a student group focused on sustainable foods -- tending crops in a community garden on University Avenue and 7th Street in Boulder.
"The work I've done has been incredibly fulfilling," Mason said. "It's easy to work hard on an issue like this because it's fun and inspiring everyday."
Mason is not alone.
The sustainable food movement sprouted interest across campus in recent years and is a growing trend for Boulder's healthy and eco-conscious student population.
CU Going Local has about 40 active members this year, its largest membership since the group's inception in 2008, Mason said.
CU sophomore and member of CU Going Local, Sara Brody, said she and two other members of the group are organizing a food share co-op this summer, slated to launch in late May.
"The focus is all about local," Brody said. "We'll buy local, organic, healthy foods in bulk and save some money."
Brody, who grew up on a self-sustaining farm in Virginia, said the movement has become more than just a hobby -- it's a little taste of home.
"It's become almost a religion for some of us," Brody said. "Some of the members of Growing Local live together in a communal space.
"We eat, sleep and breathe sustainable foods."
The group is beginning a second garden this year on land donated to them by a Boulder resident. Students began planting vegetables in both gardens this week and will continue planting through July, when they said they expect both plots to be in full bloom.
The gardens will grow more than 15 types of vegetables and herbs, which will be shared among the contributing members throughout the summer and early fall, Mason said.
CU freshman Kyle Sanna volunteered at Tuesday's gardening day after hearing about the student group during a nutrition class.
"I just wanted to contribute," said Sanna, who has no previous experience gardening.
Mason said it's not unusual for students to walk by the garden and start asking questions.
"Before you know it, they're an active member," Mason said. "It's something students seem to gravitate towards."
And it's not just students taking interest. Several CU departments and programs have hosted food-related events this month.
The campus Environmental Center hosted CU's first Food and Environmental Justice Week earlier this month. The Volunteer Resource Center and Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement also held its annual Buff Can Challenge in April, benefiting Community Food Share.
Housing and Dining Services has pledged to make 25 percent of their food local and organic by 2015, said Dan Omasta, Sustainability Director for CU's Student Government. The University Memorial Center is on a similar track, he said.
The school has considered a campus garden and greenhouse to contribute to the dining halls, but neither project has been implemented, Omasta said.
"In my five years here at CU, working with various student groups on sustainability-related issues, the sustainable foods movement has grown significantly," Omasta said. "The campus community is making sure its food is healthy and organic. CU, as a campus, is responding very well."