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Agrowtopia: Cultivating Community, Consciousness and Capital on Campus

Richard Peters, Mark Quinn
June 1, 2018
North America
Ethics & Social Justice
8 pages
ethics, social innovation, business skills, Revenue
Student Price: 
$4.00 (€3.75)
Average rating: 

Mark Quinn had big dreams for Agrowtopia. What started out as a class project had slowly evolved into a small university urban farm. In Quinn’s mind, it was going to change things on campus and off. It was going to give university students an opportunity to practice business skills. It was also going to bring a steady stream of revenue. And importantly, it was going to improve the lives of a community that had grown unaccustomed to nutrition and healthy eating. Big dreams indeed but only a few years after its first harvest, Quinn was finding these goals difficult to manage. Not only had Agrowtopia failed to fiscally break-even, but Quinn was finding his social and educational agendas equally thwarted by forces unsupportive of this ‘constructive’ change. This uncertain past left him pondering whether Agrowtopia could be ‘fixed’ or if its future would be better managed by new ownership.

Learning Outcomes: 
  • Define social entrepreneurship and identify the commonalities and differences between this and traditional entrepreneurship.
  • Articulate arguments for and against gauging social entrepreneurship performance on more than financial measures (e.g. social and educational).
  • Critically analyze the conflicting demands of diverse stakeholders and the impact this has on the formulation and implementation of a social innovation.



The struggle of placing a selection of healthier and more expensive food in an area that is prodominantly not accustomed to purchasing these foods makes it harder for the business to take off as quickly as planned. Agrowtopia could have definitely been advertised better if it was taken under the guidance of students who were interested in keeping this business afloat. This could increase financial, social, and viabiity among the student population if it was advertised by students. 


I feel like it was a great idea to start Agrowtopia, but college students are already very busy and stressed, so I think that it would have been better to have other people help keep it going.


Without the community support and help, Agrowtopia will not survive. And, new ownership would better support Agrowtopia better than the University or community can. To keep Agrowtopia alive, it literally will take a village, knowledge and support; but with people not knowing about Agrowtopia, helping Agrowtopia or caring for it to stay alive, it is difficult to say that it could be around longer than it is now. 


Agrowtopia honestly was never going to thrive in the Uptown New Orleans area. Quinn's intentions were very admirable and greatly appricated but this issue is very complex. It was not a simple fix of bringing fresh produce into a community, it several compenents that Quinn did not have access to, and he would literally have to locate all of those resources at the same time and keep them functioning in order for Agrowtopia to stay afloat. 


Even though Quinn started Agrowtopia with good intentions, I feel that it is pretty much beyond fixing at this point. Even though we all should have a healthy dosage of nutrients within our system, a business selling slightly more expensive healthy foods in an area where the people are not necessarily accustomed to buying and eating healthy foods will probably not end up being profitable. Without support and the finances to keep it running efficiently, it is probably better to look for new ownership.