Get your gardening gloves, grab your shovel – a student-run garden is coming to Juniata. Student-run gardens have been popping up on campuses all over the nation and one is being started in Huntingdon. The purpose of the garden is to provide healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables for students on campus. I interviewed Elly Engle, a sophomore from Millheim, Pa., who is a part of the Student Food Initiative and currently working with Chesney Richter, a junior from Pueblo, Colo., to get this project underway.
How did the idea of a student run garden start?
The idea at Juniata has been around for decades – the problem has been finding a professor to serve as a permanent adviser for the project. Last fall, Norris Muth, assistant professor of biology, approached the Student Food Initiative and asked if we’d be interested in starting an organic vegetable garden. And of course we jumped on it.
What problems did you face in getting access to start the garden?
Dr. Muth has been very helpful in mitigating many of the administrative problems we would have otherwise faced while starting this garden. Since we have never gardened or farmed, we’ve had to do extensive research. This included ordering books and meeting with various people, including Larry Mutti, professor of geology, and Tony Ricci of Green Heron Farm in Three Springs (a small organic farmer who participates in the local farm co-op, Tuscarora Organic Growers). We’ve had to meet with Juniata Facilities to pick a location, go over organic guidelines, and mitigate any problems that may raise issues within the Facilities workers’ union. We’ve also met with Sustainability Director Rob Yelnosky to develop departmental support and find funds for garden supplies and the summer student intern. We’ve talked to Hal McLaughlin of Sodexho to set up negotiations for using the food in our cafeteria.
What vegetables will you be planting?
We ordered approximately 45 different varieties of vegetables, focusing on heirloom species. We’ll be planting tomatoes, eggplant, summer/winter squash, cucumbers, melons, beans, leafy greens, herbs, potatoes, carrots, radishes, strawberries, asparagus, garlic, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers and more!
What will the vegetables be used for?
The vegetables will be bought by Sodexho and used in the new Student Food Initiative Line that will begin in Baker next fall. The line will be called the L.O.V.E. Line – Local, Organic, Vegetarian, Ethical Line. Our group has already written up some nice recipes, like Eggplant Parmesan, Vegetable Kabobs, Stuff-Your-Own Pepper, etc, that will use the produce coming directly from our garden and, hopefully, other local, organic sources.
Who will run the garden over the summer?
I will be here all summer to keep the garden going. There will also be some additional interns that will help me when necessary, and lots of other research students have approached me to let me know that they’ll be willing to help, too. In addition to the garden on campus, I will also be helping with a couple new gardens at the Field Station.
- Elizabeth Roberts ’10, Juniata Online Journalist