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Campus garden initiative to benefit campus and add sense of community

Chloe Ramberg, Staff Reporter - March 6, 2013

Students at Central Washington University are putting their green thumb to the test and transforming a mud pit into a garden.

Rebecca Pearson, professor of health and education, along with the public health and pre-nursing club, are working to provide Central with a campus garden. Pearson and her students already have a location: an old playground

“I’ve been really interested in seeing a spot on campus for students to garden in,” Pearson said.

The garden will be located near the free parking lot and Wahle complex. Students frequently walk to and from the free parking lot on the way to class, and will now have something beautiful to look at.

“It’s a prime location to have something that will brighten someone’s day,” said Wil Watters, junior public health major.

Pearson has been working on this project for over two years and is starting to develop the blueprints for the garden. The focus of the garden is entirely campus-oriented, and all students can get involved.

Central has never had a student-run garden, for fear it would not be properly cared for. Pearson has faith that the students working with her, and those who will join later, will take pride in their project. The university, as well as facilities management, has been very supportive as the project has taken form.

“Let’s try this,” Pearson said. “Let’s trust the students with this garden.”

Laecio Rocha, junior public health, has been involved in the project and is inspired by the work Pearson has put in to making this dream a reality.

“I’d like to acknowledge Dr. Pearson,” Rocha said. “As a student, seeing how much effort she’s putting into it makes me want to walk that extra mile to be right there with her.”

Even in the earliest stages, there has been positive student feedback regarding the idea of a campus garden. A student assessment was conducted in order to determine the interest around a community garden.

“There was very little dissent, almost no one thought this was a bad idea,” said Josina Bickel, junior public health.

The hope for the garden is that everyone feels included. Students from any major are welcome to participate, as well as clubs around campus.

“One of our main goals is getting a diverse group of people involved,” Watters said.

In order to make that goal a reality, the garden will be open to anybody on campus. There will be an emphasis placed on accessibility.

“Anyone can come into that space, however they move, and feel like they can be a part of things,” Pearson said.

Ideally, when the garden is finished, students and clubs will have the opportunity to plant in their own plots. Flowers, produce, herbs, and various other plants will be featured, as well as a bench. The garden will be completely organic, with a buffer zone in which no chemicals can be sprayed.

Students will have the opportunity to learn how to garden from the ground up, and to learn about alternative food sources. Students from the public health club have campus community health in mind.

“I think learning how to grow your own food has been lost to this generation,” Bickel said. “Gardening is a way to benefit your overall health.”

Eric Setiz, senior public health major, has very high hopes for the garden but realizes it will not transform overnight.

“Gardening is a process,” Setiz said.

It is a process that requires a lot of love and attention from as many individuals as possible. Even though the garden is not fully up and running, students have the opportunity to get involved immediately.

A campus garden has the potential to bring a sense of community, and join students from all walks of life together.

“This garden is ours,” Rocha said. “It’s something to be proud of.”

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