Pope Francis recently stated in his encyclical, Laudato Si’, “We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature.” He called for mankind to become one with nature again. In our industrialized society, we are used to literally encasing ourselves in cement, gravel, and stone. The more modern our society has become, the more we have distanced ourselves from nature.
Many people within the fields of biology and ecology believe that the environment has intrinsic worth that deserves to be appreciated. You know that the earth has intrinsic worth if you’ve ever taken a moment in your life to just appreciate the natural world that you are witnessing. A view of Niagara Falls, a redwood forest, Yellowstone, or even just a local lake can take your breath away. With all of the technology that we distract ourselves with today, how can we bring ourselves back to nature? Visiting national parks and nature itself is one way, but once it is out of sight it is often out of mind. How do we remind ourselves of how powerful the earth is?
Gardening is something that many people find peace in. A gardener is able to plant a seed and care for it like one might care for a pet. Many students who live in the dorms enjoy keeping plants in order to compensate for the rules against pets. Gardening produce is also an excellent way to know your meals are ethical. Produce sold in grocery stores are usually not local and often expire quickly, but when you pick a tomato off of your own plant it almost always tastes better, lasts longer and looks just as good, if not better.
There is so much reward that comes from successfully growing plants and produce, so why can’t students garden on campus? Well, they just might be able to in the near future.
I talked to Christina Meyer-Jax, an assistant professor in the department of nutrition, about the potential for a garden on campus. While the garden is still in the proposal stages, there are high hopes that it will reach the planning stage by fall 2016 and begin production by spring 2017, but how did it all begin?
“This project started off as a TRW group project Katie Tholke was a part of, and has continued since then as she became a part of the Food Justice Coalition. She continued her work on the project this past fall as a part of the Student Senate with the Environmental Issues Chairs…There is a core group (includes both faculty and student leaders) that is now leading the progression of getting the Community Garden approved,” said Meyer-Jax.
Thankfully, the prospects are looking very good on getting the green light on the project.
“We have met with Provost Colleen Hegranes who is supportive of moving the project forward for further campus group endorsement,” said Meyer-Jax.
So what exactly would the garden be used for? The garden will be open for faculty and students to use to grow produce, but more than that, it will be a learning opportunity for various classes to get hands-on experience and even conduct experiments. There is also talk that extra produce will be donated to food shelters like Sarah’s… an Oasis for Women and Brightside Produce. In addition, there would be the opportunity for St. Kate’s to host workshops to teach students and faculty about the basics of gardening. Even the Montessori classes on campus could make use of the garden for their classes.
While it is not certain just where the garden would be yet, it is an exciting prospect for the school’s faculty and staff. It would allow students and staff to save a lot of money on their groceries and provide a great learning experience for everyone involved.