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Club garden to yield sustainable food, concepts

May 2, 2013

The first student community garden will be accessible to students and faculty during the 2013-2014 fall school year through the Student Alliance for Local and Sustainable Agriculture (S.A.L.S.A.) club.

The goal of S.A.L.S.A. is to grow ingredients within the garden to produce about 300 pints of salsa mix. Vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onions and more will be harvested. Since this will be the first year the project is taking place, and with the weather being unpredictable, it is still being planned out.

According to Jabez Meulemans, president of S.A.L.S.A., there is approximately a 50 x 25 foot space available for the garden, and that students don’t have to be part of the club in order to plant your own vegetables.

“The opportunity to get personal with your food, to be a part of the planting, caring, and harvesting is a great opportunity for all students,” Meulemans said.

The student garden will be in the fenced in plant and garden area by the intramural fields on campus. Being open daily, with the exception of the weekends, the maintenance and regulation of the food will be up to volunteers and those who chose to plant their own vegetables.

The kickoff for preparing the and planting in the garden will take place in the beginning of May.

Loretta Ortiz-Ribbing, faculty advisor for the club, said with the goal of producing 300 pints of salsa, the plan is to market and advertise to faculty and students on campus to sell the fresh product.

The food and tools are being funded from the Organized Activity Fee. It’s a segregated fee that is a part of tuition. S.A.L.S.A. has been given a budget to work with for the year as well as their own fundraising projects from last year like selling coupon books or selling sauerkraut plants.
“This is an enterprise for people to learn how to grow their food and make it for a local use,” Meulemans said.

“I think it’s an incredible idea. I think creating a community garden for students and faculty members is a good idea because it’s healthy food; I don’t see any downside to it as long as it’s regulated,” said Division of Technology Services IT Manager Steven Meads.

When asked if he would be one of the staff members to get involved and utilize the garden, he said no, only because he already has a garden back home where he has plenty of his own vegetables to spare. Sophomore Josh Fick said, “I think it could be a fun and unique addition to student life on campus. As long as it’s well managed I think it’s a great idea.”

Meulemans said that the student run garden is a unique addition to campus and that is something that should be taken advantage of.

“It’s a great idea, if they had a sale for their food I would for sure go and support it instead of going to a grocery store,” said senior Sarah Krueger.

For more information about getting involved with the club, volunteering to help maintain, reserving your own spot within the student run garden or more information in general you can contact Ortiz-Ribbing by visiting her office in the Agriculture Science building or contact Jabez Meulemans by email.