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Columbia MD, 21044
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Garden Blooms with New Possibilities

Students gardening.

As spring rains shower the campus, the ground near the Athletics and Fitness Complex is poised for new life. Students participating in Howard Community College (HCC) Service Learning built and installed a series of raised beds for a new campus garden that will be used to grow vegetables and herbs.

“We will produce food in spring, summer, and fall, but we want the garden to be the most bountiful in the fall when the most students are here,” said Andrea Barnhart, garden manager. “We also want the garden to be sustainable and grown in a sustainable fashion.”

A brand-new project for HCC, the garden will provide vegetables and herbs for the on-campus food pantry, which serves students in need. The pantry currently relies mostly on canned food and packaged goods that require no refrigeration, but Dr. Cindy Peterka, vice president of student services, knew students needed access to healthy and plentiful produce.

“The garden is especially important for students who are food insecure,” said Dr. Peterka. “It will provide students with healthy, fresh vegetables and teach them how to garden at home.”

While the garden would be the first time that produce is grown on campus, a pilot program with the Maryland Food Bank brought fresh fruits and vegetables to HCC in February. More than 100 students received the equivalent of 30 pounds of food each in less than an hour, and more visits are planned in the future.

Beyond providing vegetables for the food pantry, the garden will also supplement the food used by the culinary program. A professor from the culinary program sits on the garden committee that assists in planning and raising awareness about the garden.

The hope is that faculty, staff, and students, as well as community volunteers, will contribute to the garden’s success.

“The garden is a learning space, where the whole community can appreciate the joys of growing their own vegetables,” explained Barnhart.

Topics: Campus Life
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