Friday, August 29, 2014

Garden gives campus fresh vegetables

Liberty’s new 70-acre facility will give students a space to develop new skills by growing their own produce

Cultivation — Students are encouraged to come to this greenhouse to make their own plot and learn how to garden.

A new recreational opportunity became available to students this summer. Liberty University developed a 70-acre tract of land where students may enjoy farming and agriculture.

Nestled in a residential area off of Sunnymeade Road sits Liberty’s campus garden, which opened in the summer of 2013.

According to Alicia Cripe, the campus garden manager, the 15 acres of prepared land is home to various fruits, vegetables and herbs, which include watermelon, zucchini and basil.

“The basic idea for the campus garden is really to provide students with new skills: skills to learn how to grow food,” Cripe said.

The Morris Campus Garden, the garden’s official name, allows students to take part in preparing the soil, planting the seed and harvesting the crops that they have grown. Some of the garden’s vegetables will be served by Sodexo in the Reber-Thomas Dining Hall.

“We are extremely anxious to be able to incorporate the ingredients that come from the garden into our daily recipes at Reber-Thomas,” Craig Dasuta, Sodexo’s district executive chef, said.

Cripe stated that she is working on providing students with a way of knowing which produce in the dining hall is from the garden. She hopes to achieve this by adding signs where the produce is being served. Cripe believes this is a great way to get students excited about the garden.

Besides donating to Sodexo, the campus garden contributes several items to Daily Bread, a community soup kitchen where hot meals are served daily.

According to Cripe, the garden may become home to chickens, goats and cows sometime in the near future. This would include classroom facilities that could be used by various departments within Liberty that would benefit from access to a mini-farm. She hopes that one day Liberty will offer gardening as an elective course for undergraduate students.

Those working with the garden hope to see students, faculty and staff members have their own plots to use for fundraising events, such as missions trips.

“Students seem to be interested because of their passion for missions,” Hayley Van Fossen, a junior student worker at the garden, said.
Van Fossen emphasized how great it feels to be a part of something like the garden that will impact people all over the world in the years to come.

Even the Reber-Thomas Dining Hall would like to see this project expand.
“My hopes for the future are that we continue to grow this project from produce, to composting from Reber, to a small working farm and having the students reap the benefits from what it produces,” Dasuta said.

The Morris Campus Garden was named after Henry and Elvira Morris who donated the greenhouse once located near DeMoss Hall on Liberty University’s campus. Plans have been made for a dedication ceremony at the campus garden in October, with the family of the late Henry and Elvira Morris present.

For more information about the garden, email campusgarden@liberty.edu or call (434) 592-5636.

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