Shenandoah’s young community garden marked its first harvest in the summer of 2016, as spring-planted crops, like lettuce and purple potatoes, were picked, pulled and dug out.
The garden, located between the Allen Dining Hall patio and Cooley Hall on a patch of land formerly overgrown with English ivy, is an expansion of Shenandoah’s sustainability efforts through the Shenandoah Salvage Company (SSC), said Shenandoah Outdoor and Adventure Recreation Coordinator/ Outdoor Leadership and Education Instructor Alice Morgan, M.Sc., who oversees the SSC.
Maintaining the garden is an educational experience for her SSC work-study students, who learn how to plant seeds and sustain growing plants. “A lot of them are really getting into it,” she said, before noting that the strawberries in one bed were planted by student request.
As fall progresses, pumpkins donated by a friend of the university, who started the autumn staples in a greenhouse, will continue to grow, as will fall-sown perennials and annuals, which will always fill two of the beds in hopes of attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies, Morgan said. Some of the pollinator plants include purple coneflower, corn poppy, blue flax, sweet alyssum, lavender hyssop and bergamot.
The small harvests are given to the students who’ve planted them, as well as those who have donated plants, Morgan said. And aside from providing students with food and a gardening education, the small patch also “kind of brightens the area,” she said. “It’s here for everyone to enjoy.”
Morgan said that one day, she hopes an even larger, more full-scale community garden will be created on campus, where students, faculty and staff can cultivate crops. At the moment, however, the small garden is working well as the Shenandoah Salvage Company evolves to include not only the garden, but also the existing “swap shop” in Cooley 204, which is open one week each month and where faculty, staff and students can swap free gently used items, and sustainability educators, who may talk to the campus community about everything from water conservation to farming.