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Time to Grow

The EWU campus garden provides students with more than food

The+campus+garden+is+ready+to+sprout+through+its+protective+winter+covering+of+straw
The campus garden is ready to sprout through its protective winter covering of straw

The campus garden is ready to sprout through its protective winter covering of straw

Erin Rebar

Erin Rebar

The campus garden is ready to sprout through its protective winter covering of straw

By Erin Rebar, A&E and Features Editor

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Spring is finally here and the EWU garden, located behind the Red Barn and diagonal to the Townhouse apartments, is ready to bloom.

“The EWU Community Garden was started in 2011 by the hard work of a group of students and a true dedication of time and effort by Dr. Robin O’Quinn and Dr. Laurie Morley,” said Erik Budsberg, EWU’s sustainability coordinator. “In recent years, Dining Services joined the garden team and has employed students to help maintain the garden and organize volunteering events. The Office of Sustainability is starting its second season supporting the community garden.”

The food from the garden is grown by student volunteers, but anyone is welcome to stop by for a visit, said Emily Sherman, EWU senior and student sustainability coordinator.

“I plan on hosting several garden work party days this quarter, which will be open to all students,” said Sherman. “People can stay up to date on what’s going on in the garden by following our Facebook page.”

What is gathered from the garden is used at campus dining locations such as Baldy’s and Tawanka, Sherman said. There is a wide variety of crops growing in the garden currently; what is planted each year changes with the seasons and more crops have been added as the garden expands.

“Some of the plants already growing in the garden or soon to be planted include: peaches, apples, hazelnuts, blueberries, chives, squash, peas, carrots, cucumber, beets, green onions, basil, mint, parsnips, spinach, chard, kale, romaine lettuce, arugula, quinoa, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, eggplant, green peppers, and tomatoes.  We will also be getting honey bees in the very near future,” Budsberg said.

Robin O’Quinn, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the EWU biology department and one of the garden’s founders says she believes that the campus garden provides students and the EWU community with an invaluable experience to grow together and learn about the process of cultivating crops.

“Gardens and gardening are about making community a real thing,” said O’Quinn. “We can come together to learn about growing food, get our hands dirty, make some new friends and either contribute to our campus food supply, as we currently do, or contribute to our own food supply and those of folks in our community who cannot. Initially, the garden was conceived of by students who were interested in learning how to grow their own food and in having a place on campus where that could happen and they could promote ‘real’ food and a real food culture among their peers.”

Working in the campus garden gives students the opportunity to participate in something larger than themselves, and to learn about sustainability and the environment in ways they otherwise would not.

“Culturally, we’re losing touch with the natural environment at an unprecedented rate,” said O’Quinn. “Urban areas are growing by leaps and bounds, rural communities are shrinking and with them the connectivity that we as humans have traditionally had to our food supply. If this trend continues, people really will grow to think that a pill can supply them with the nutrition their bodies need and that the natural environment can be accessed digitally. Everyone should know how to grow at least some of their own food and everyone should know something about how their personal choices affect the health and well-being of the planet.”

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Time to Grow