Campus Garden builds community through agriculture
There is much more than produce growing at Liberty University’s Morris Campus Garden. The garden’s mission is to teach students agricultural principles in order to reach out to the community, and ever since it opened last year, it has been doing just that.
On its 15-acre lot nestled on Liberty Mountain, the garden grows a variety of seasonal crops, including kale, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, green beans, broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, corn, squash, and a variety of herbs. Just this semester, new fencing was installed and an extra half-acre of growing space was cultivated. There are 16 student workers and volunteers who are actively involved with every step of the growing and harvesting process.
“Seeing how food is grown and what we do makes you appreciate where your food comes from, and just what it takes (to grow it),” said alumnus Chris Marvel (’07), the assistant garden manager. “And hopefully that will encourage our students to support local agriculture.”
Senior Laura Brumble began volunteering at the garden in May and now serves as a student worker. She said that gardening is a great way to experience God’s creation.
“We plant the seed, but it is all His work,” she said. “You just see it right before your eyes. It’s awesome.”
Brooke Miller, a junior who has been volunteering at the garden for a year, said she enjoys getting outdoors and away from campus in a serene environment. But what she especially appreciates is seeing the fruits of her labor put to good use.
“Being able to see the things that I plant grow, (and then) give it to (the dining hall) and other places that can use it, is very rewarding.”
Most of the produce is given away, split between Liberty’s Reber-Thomas Dining Hall and various local charities, including Lynchburg Grows, Lynchburg Daily Bread, and the Liberty Godparent Home. Lynchburg Grows sells produce at a reduced rate in low-income neighborhoods, and the Daily Bread serves meals to the hungry. Some of the garden’s produce is also available for sale at Liberty’s Farmer’s Market, held every Thursday through Nov. 13 from 3:30-6 p.m. in the Doc’s Parking Lot on East Campus.
“The thing that sets us apart from other gardens and farms is that we are truly here to serve others,” Marvel said. “For us to be able to use the university’s resources to serve the community, to get good local food to them, and to have it be for free, there’s no better way that I can think of to help the community.”
Several of the volunteers plan to take the skills they learn at the garden to the mission field, where they hope to help struggling overseas communities develop more effective ways to grow their own food.