Ohio Wesleyan University students have planted the seeds this summer for a project that they hope flourishes into a perennial campus event—the creation of a community vegetable garden.
The students researched the project and, with the support of faculty and administrators, sought financial assistance to get things growing. Their dream became a reality thanks to an Ohio Wesleyan theory into practice grant and additional financial support from Chartwells and the SLU (Small Living Unit) Programming Board.
In previous discussions about creating a community garden, a main challenge was finding students who could stay on campus during the summer to maintain the plants. The theory to practice grant provided a stipend for John Moriarty ’10, a Pittsburgh native and Tree House resident, to work as a student gardener during the summer. Morgan Payne ’11, a Delaware resident, helped write the grant proposal and is working in the garden as a volunteer.
In March, Moriarty started growing plants from seeds at the Stratford Ecological Center greenhouse, where he worked. Greer Aeschbury ’10 of Westerville, Ohio, also started plants from seeds for the community garden. In April, about 12 student volunteers toiled in the soil to prepare the earth. Twelve raised beds were created and filled with compost, vermiculite, and peat-moss mixture.
Sprouting from the students’ efforts are lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, spinach, broccoli, zucchini, beets, turnips, pumpkins, tomatoes, squash, beans, cherry tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes, brussels sprouts, potatoes, dill, cilantro, sweet basil, and strawberry and raspberry plants.
“Everyone we have dealt with has been pretty excited about the project,” Moriarty says.
The students plan to split the produce between Chartwells on campus and needy area residents, he says.
“Hopefully the community garden will be an annual event from now on,” he says. “We have built the gardens and have a grant-funded student position for the coming school year. … I hope it expands and lasts for years.”
Click here for more about how the Ohio Wesleyan Community Garden grows.