Published: April 20, 2011

With commencement quickly approaching and spring temperatures warming, University of Colorado Boulder senior Bryant Mason is working hard to prepare vegetable gardens and get crops in the ground before he graduates.

As one of the founders of the student group "CU Going Local," Mason and the other members of the three-year-old student organization work to promote local and sustainable food on campus and in the Boulder community.

The group operates two vegetable gardens – both on University Hill just off campus – growing kale, spinach, lettuce, carrots and beets in the spring and about 20 other vegetables during the summer, according to Mason.

"We also help low-income communities and elementary schools set up gardens of their own, so they can learn how to grow their own healthy food at home," said Mason, an economics and environmental studies major who will graduate on May 6. "When we're not working in our gardens, we do outreach to teach people about the benefits of eating sustainable and organic food."

Mason's interest in sustainable food and food in general began more on the sustainability side, he said. "I am an environmental studies major and I realized that food systems impact just about every aspect of a community, not only the environmental aspect but also the social and economic aspects as well," Mason said. "The more I got involved, the more I realized that there are so many other benefits to eating locally grown, organic and sustainable food."

When he was starting to develop CU Going Local as a sophomore, Mason was part of the Puksta Scholars program on campus.

"The program really helped me develop civic engagement skills and gave me a lot of mentorship that allowed me to run this club," he said.

When he isn't working on schoolwork or with CU Going Local, he is most likely training for his next triathlon. A member of the CU-Boulder triathlon team that has won two straight national championships in 2010-11, Mason enjoys the challenge of training in the sport.

"I put in a lot of hours training on the bike, on the trails and in the pool," Mason said. "It's what I like to do. It's incredibly difficult, but I love training and I love my teammates."

After Mason graduates on May 6 he plans to start a sustainable food business.

"I want to help individuals, communities and businesses set up gardens and garden networks for local food consumption," he said.