AU campus garden plot set near soccer field

Wed, 2010-03-10 10:51 -- univcomm
March 10, 2010

The 30 or so Anderson University students who braved one of the final cold blasts of winter last week sensed spring was in the air, and something else, too.

“The whole idea is about community, to be working with each other and learning from each other,” said Caity Stuart, AU Student Government Association’s director of environmental affairs.

campusgardenAnderson University students, staff and alumni last week staked out and dedicated what will be garden plots off of Fifth Street and just west of the soccer fields. Turns out that all a few interested students had to do was ask.

Stuart and others on campus, particularly the Orange, Black and Green environmental student group, got the ball rolling.

“This year one of the members came to the Student Government Association with an idea,” Stuart told the small gathering. “They wanted to find a way to grow produce, flowers, and have a garden managed by students on campus,” she said.

Joe Monroe, who graduated from AU last semester, was among those who approached Stuart about a campus garden. “It’s been very receptive, but we also got poked fun at,” he said.

But Monroe said the garden will provide students who want the opportunity a chance to learn about growing food and giving back. “We also wanted to provide food to the community,” he said.

The food that will grow in the garden is intended for donation to local food banks and the college’s food service, he said.

Stuart said once the idea was presented, AU’s physical plant quickly identified a spot suitable for the garden. Monroe said he’d like to see fruit trees and flowers planted nearby as well. The student government’s senate provided $300 in — literally — seed money, opting to forgo some personalized items that had been in the budget.

So when the small gathering joined banjo picker Levi Douglass and guitarist Jill Potter in singing the Woody Guthrie standard “This Land Is Your Land,” the song was fitting. As of last week, Stuart said about two dozen contracts had been signed by students and faculty who pledged to grow crops in designated plots.

garden2Graham Brown told the gathering that unlike other groundbreaking, there would be no building crews, no new structures. “What I keep coming back to is simplicity,” he said.

“We’re not going to be celebrating how much money we raised,” Brown said. “We’re planting relationships.”

And what’s planted this year might just put down roots that last beyond the students’ time in college.

“I’d love to see this be a permanent part of campus,” Stuart said.

—Dave Stafford is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin. Photo credits: John P. Cleary. Story republished with permission.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2009, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.