Community gardening is a tool for building stronger connections between people and food, and provides healthy, local produce for all to share. Community gardening has been popular in American urban spaces for decades, gaining particular ground during World War I and II. However, community gardens on college campuses are a relatively recent phenomenon. Here are a few notable college community gardens and farms in which students play an active role.
Considering that all students pursue a major in ecology at COA in Maine, it’s no surprise that the college owns and operates several gardens as well as a 70 acre farm with 5 acres in production of certified organic vegetables and fruits. All students are encouraged to volunteer at the farm and its Farm Stand, which sells the produce to community members. Students can also carry out independent and group projects for academic credit at Beech Hill.
Although only recently established in 2009, the University of Delaware’s Community Garden run through its Agriculture Department is already well under way. It supplies fresh, organic produce to the local food bank, welcomes student volunteers, and offers a student internship program as well. In an interesting spin on community gardens, the school’s Department of Health and Social Services is working with agriculture department to create a “therapeutic” community garden. Since studies have shown that community gardening has a specifically therapeutic use for those suffering from depression and other mental illnesses, the new garden will focus on helping members of the community who are seeking stress relief.
Evergreen State College’s Organic Farm is a five acre tract of land the encompasses a farmhouse, several community gardens, a biodiesel facility, a compost facility, and more. All students enrolled in the Practice of Sustainable Agriculture program participate as interns, many of whom undertake personal research projects to bring about substantive improvements on the farm. The farm also participates in Community Supported Agriculture, enabling community members to purchase shares in exchange for produce. When the growing season and academic year overlap, the school’s salad bar is stocked with produce from the farm. The farm also accepts and encourages student volunteers.
Berea College is in and of itself a unique school. Located in Kentucky, it takes on all of its students, many of whom are from low-income Appalachian communities, completely tuition-free. All students, however, are required to work on campus at least ten hours a week. The Berea College Gardens and Greenhouse is one such campus venue in which students can fulfill their work requirement. It’s also one of the oldest campus community gardens with a fascinating history.
These are only a small handful of university community gardens, and most colleges now have or plan on instituting one to some degree or another. If you are a prospective college student who is seeking a university that takes green lifestyles and sustainability seriously, you might want to check out the Daily Green’s list of “greenest” colleges. If you are currently a college student, what kind of community garden has your institution implemented? If it doesn’t yet have one, why not start one yourself?
Barbara Jolie, regularly writes on the topics of online classes. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: email@example.com.