Liberty University will officially open its own campus garden this fall as a new opportunity for students to learn how to grow their own food and give back to the community.
The garden, located on Liberty’s mountain property about 3 miles from campus, has beautiful views overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is part of the many outdoor recreational opportunities offered to students through Liberty’s Student Activities Office.
The garden will benefit students familiar with gardening as well as those eager to learn about it, said alumna Alicia Cripe (’09), garden manager.
Cripe has a passion to see the garden take shape. After graduation, she spent time in Connecticut working on a farm and also spent a year in New Zealand learning various gardening skills.
“While I was looking for work at farms or gardens, I thought that Liberty should have something like this. I started surveying students, faculty, and staff to see who would be interested and presented my proposal to the chancellor,” Cripe said.
The garden is in its beginning stages and includes two “high tunnels” (a type of greenhouse), currently growing tomatoes, corn, beans, squash, watermelon, pumpkin, potatoes, garlic, peas, cucumbers, carrots, and other produce. Cripe said the next stage is to fence in about 1 acre around the high tunnels that will allow for more growing room.
Half of the produce will be available in the Reber-Thomas Dining Hall and the rest will be donated to local food banks.
“The garden benefits the school by bringing in fresh produce, it benefits the community by providing them with fresh produce, and it demonstrates a Christian worldview by bringing in a little bit of care for the earth and teaches students how to accomplish this,” Cripe said.
Students will have the opportunity to fulfill their required Christian/community service hours at the garden. All majors are welcome to volunteer.
“There is always a way that a garden can tie into anything that you are doing,” Cripe said. “The garden is still a learning opportunity for me as well as everybody else. This whole season has been a learning curve, so whether kids have grown up on farms or they have not, I think there is a lot to learn.”