Community garden beneficial to Calvin
I am someone who loves the feel of dirt underneath my fingernails. I believe that nibbling on a piece of fresh-picked broccoli is a simple and pure experience that everyone should have frequently. That is why the Calvin Community Garden is one of my favorite places on campus.
At the closing of the summer growing season and kickoff of its new vision, the garden hosted the “celebration of the season,” a time for anyone from the Calvin community to come check out the garden, help winterize it and learn more about its future and the amazing benefits of community gardens.
The event put the “community” in the Calvin Community Garden, as various people ripped up weeds, tilled soil and drank cider together. With displays inside one of the apartments, attendees were encouraged to learn more about the good that community gardens bring to ecosystems, health and communities. It was a time to celebrate the progress that has been made in the garden and the anticipation of the ways in which it is planned to grow.
Whenever I talk to people about heading over to the garden on a given day, I am usually faced with a response that is along the lines of “Calvin has a community garden? Where?” To clear up any misunderstandings, yes, Calvin has a community garden located near the Knollcrest East apartments that is open to anyone from the Calvin community.
About two-thirds of the plots are able to be rented out for a season to grow plants of choice, something that many seminarians and apartment-dwellers take advantage of. The other plots are carefully tended by student volunteers and three student assistant managers, Maaike, Tina and Jesse, who are all passionate about the garden’s mission at Calvin and have a diverse mix of skills that help make it a success.
Starting this fall, new committees will form based on the variety of interests that people have concerning the garden and its role at Calvin. These committees have goals that range from strategies to expand the garden, to social justice research as to how best use a community garden, to working to better the distribution of the produce grown at the garden.
Currently the produce is available for anyone to take, but few people know about this opportunity and so many of the vegetables remain unused. The committee is also working on a plan to relocate the garden to a group of houses on Hampshire, in the neighborhood just behind the Spoelhof Fieldhouse, so that it would be more accessible to the majority of students at Calvin and will have more space to grow. It is the hope of the managers that they will be able to begin distributing produce grown in the garden to the dining halls on campus.
There are many reasons why the community garden matters to Calvin as a whole and to you as an individual. In a dining hall eating culture, we are not exposed to the variety and quality of vegetables that we need for our diets. Balancing the processed foods we eat regularly with fresh produce is vital to our health.
This garden provides the opportunity for Calvin to renew the earth and bring us into community with one another and with the environment, something we often miss when we are caught up in our day to day routines. I encourage you to explore the garden, grab some kale and maybe even get a little dirt under your fingernails.