By Sophie Crispin
As the academic year nears its end, several students are just beginning work on the Ohio Wesleyan community garden. Located in front of the Student Observatory beside Stuyvesant Hall, the garden has been largely left to the care of several dedicated students. Senior Megan Fris, a member of the Tree House and Environment and Wildlife Club, has taken the garden on as a house project.
“Originally, former Tree House members received a TiPiT grant to start the community garden the year before I joined, so I took care of it the second year” Fris said.
Containing crops like peas, tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers and watermelon, the garden’s purpose is to offer fresh, accessible produce for the campus community. Fris said there are two reasons for the project.
“One reason is that the food we get from the grocery store throughout the year is less nutritious than the food we grow ourselves,” she said. “This is because many of the produce you pick in the grocery store has been artificially ripened. Second, in order to get fruits and veggies in the middle of winter, we rely on mass transit, which in turn burns fossil fuels and helps contribute to global warming. Eating locally, for these reasons, is extremely important.”
Fris and other students, including junior Michael Cormier, who will take over the project when he returns from Cuba, hope to expand the garden. Fris said the main obstacle is timing—students begin work on the garden in the spring but few people can tend it in the summer.
Chartwells Resident District Manager Gene Castelli is working to help students overcome this problem. He said there’s a possibility of using summer student labor to tend the garden and using the produce in the fall.
“With the climate being what it is, we are limited as to what will grow outdoors in the colder months, but I know we can expand on what we produce with a better defined program,” he said.
Chartwells has funded the garden’s initial startup costs and committed to purchase the produce so the garden can be financially sustainable.
The students working on the garden are enthusiastic about Chartwells becoming involved. Though she’s graduating, Fris said she has high hopes for the garden.
“The final outcome would perhaps look something like gardens everywhere on campus (where appropriate), with a team of 50 or so students assigned to care for different parts of the garden throughout the summer,” she said.