Apr 042012
Authors: Devin O'Brien

The university’s sustainable development garden co-manager Lea Pace, opened a door to the small greenhouse in the back of the Plant Environmental Research Center Monday afternoon. The inside was filled with the earthy smell of potting soil. Sprouts and freshly planted seeds sat on the tables, filling the facility.

According to Pace, the student-run club is operated with the biological and chemical composition of the soil in mind. Pest and disease management are other facets of the garden.

One facet of SusDev is the freedom of activity in its agricultural practices.

Robyn Goldstein, co-manager of the garden, said she likes “all the opportunity and (being able to) try whatever we (the students) want.”

The club teaches sustainable gardening from the planting stage to the sale of the garden’s products through a hands-on experience, faculty sponsor Adriane Elliot said in an email to the Collegian. Communication, plan implementation, volunteer coordination and community dynamics are taught as well.

According to Elliot, compost and soil tests to determine what materials to use in the gardening process are part of the club’s sustainable practices. These methods result in a good growing area.

“All measured soil variables are at ‘sufficient’ levels for high yield vegetable production currently,” Elliot said. “Only sustainably managed soils (those that have had adequate materials returned to the soil) would have such measured values associated with them.”

The organization also contributes to the social and economic sides of sustainability by creating community and using sales profits to start the next season’s garden.

The club grows vegetables such as onions, cabbage and tomatoes, as well as herbs like basil. Medicinal herbs, such as chamomile, fennel and comfrey, are also grown. These will be sold as baby plant planting starters alongside veggies during the food co-op.

Freshman human development and family studies major Carmen Thong was directed to the sustainable development garden by her Horticulture 100 teaching assistant. She said she enjoys being able to garden without being a horticulture major.

“It’s very therapeutic,” Thong said.

The garden will have a booth at the DIY Fair. Later that day, the club will present “Dirt,” a documentary on soil degradation and sustainable practices, at 7 p.m. in the Behavioral Sciences Building. The club will also host a May 5 plant sale at PERC.

The garden gathers Mondays at 3 p.m. and Wednesdays at 2 p.m.

Club member Christina Dickinsom said she enjoys the atmosphere of the club.

“It’s a pretty positive thing to be a part of,” Dickinsom said. “I think it’s just usually a great place to come.”

Collegian writer Devin O’Brien can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Sustainable Development Garden
Plant Environmental Research Center, 630 West Lake St.
Mondays at 3 p.m., Wednesdays at 2 p.m.

 Posted by at 4:28 pm

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