Since Lehigh University first opened its doors in 1865, it has been inextricably tied to South Bethlehem, the City of Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley region. Rich in history and steeped in cultural tradition, the area continues to be an outstanding home for the university, which derives much of its inspiration and enthusiasm from its neighbors. Lehigh, Lehigh's students, staff and faculty are committed to helping the community invigorate its neighborhoods, redefine economic prosperity and address a full range of critical social issues. Already deeply entrenched in the community, Lehigh strives to be a good neighbor and a partner in the renaissance of Bethlehem.
Students and faculty involved in the South Side Initiative are improving access to fresh fruits and vegetables by providing local residents and members of the Lehigh community with convenient, inexpensive plots of land for gardening. One example is the Esperanza Garden along the Greenway, which is a student-driven project planned by the Community Leaders Initiative for Permaculture to celebrate the importance of fresh, local food.