Zoe Davis has always had a growing garden. Now a freshman at Columbia College, she is helping to grow a garden with 18 tomato plants and 10 pepper plants.
The garden started in July through the college’s Science Club and grew more than three buckets of tomatoes and peppers and donated them to the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri.
“(Gardening) was my biggest goal before graduating, and the college took it very seriously and did everything in their power to support me,” said Davis, president of the Science Club. “We started this as early as possible, so I am very grateful for a college that supports me and allows me to make a difference.”
The garden, about 10 feet by 12 feet, sits off Eighth Street on a patch of grass behind Columbia College’s Practice Hall parking lot. The college’s Office of Plant and Facility Operations donated a blue shed that they keep next to the garden to store equipment.
In the future, the club hopes to expand the garden to a larger area of grass behind the shed. Members are also designing a mural and plan for art students to paint on the street-facing side of the shed.
Davis came up with the idea for the garden last fall after Tara Martin, one of the Science Club advisors, mentioned that students had gardened on campus in the past. The club worked with Cliff Jarvis, the college’s Vice President of Facilities Operations, and the facilities team to find a space they could use. In July, facility staff plowed the soil when it was finally dry enough.
Davis wanted to turn his gardening hobby into a club project that could supply products to the food bank. She read online that food banks typically stock canned fruits and vegetables, and Davis believes everyone deserves to have fresh produce.
After Davis shared her idea for the garden, her mother planted pepper seeds and grew the plants in her home until the garden was ready. Davis’ parents also donated the initial tomato plants, with the rest of the materials funded by the Science Club.
Davis’ father serves as a gardening expert for the Science Club, which Davis said has more than 100 members. Officers such as secretary Kristin Kelly, a junior, take turns maintaining the garden for a week. Now, with the help of other club members, they weed, mound the soil, water the plants, then harvest the produce and deliver it to the food bank.
“This is completely non-profit. We’re just returning (the products) and we’re very happy to do so, we’re very proud,” Kelly said. “Also, we can learn from it and try to apply our scientific skills to the garden.”
The club started out simple with just tomatoes and peppers, but they want to try more plants if the garden does well. They hope to have tomatoes and peppers by mid-October and then plant kale or other plants better suited to cooler climates.
“We hope to grow our own mini-farm and try to get more stuff,” Davis said. “We are looking to grow mushrooms and just all kinds of different plants.”
Martin, an associate professor of biological sciences, said the garden offers students more opportunities than just classroom labs to see the biology topics they learn in action.
“They have the experience of how to plant and care for the plants, make sure they are watered, harvest – and what we’re really excited about is that they get involved, not just with the faculty, but with the community as well.” said Martin. “This is a super important thing because science impacts everyone, and I really appreciate that they’re getting that message out there and showing that science is for everyone’s good.”
Source : www.columbiamissourian.com