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Georgia Southern University

Center for Sustainability grows more than produce, flowers in Campus Community Garden

Volunteers work in the Campus Community Garden on the Statesboro Campus.

Mums, sunflowers, kale, squash, carrots and cucumbers are just a few things that can be found growing in the Campus Community Garden on Georgia Southern’s Statesboro Campus. But if you ask Garden Manager and student Eric Holley, the Garden has much more to offer.

Responsibility, food independence and education can also be found thriving in the Garden, which is situated across from the Williams Center by the Hollis Building.

“The best part about working in a garden is the simple fact that you know where your food comes from, and you get much more control over your food source,” Holley said. “You can grow your favorite foods and feel comfortable with the fact that you’re reducing your carbon footprint. It’s a win-win.”

Students have a unique opportunity to get their hands dirty and grow their own food by reserving a plot in the Garden and attending bi-weekly workshops on topics like soil science, natural fertilizers and harvesting, according to Cami Sockow, coordinator for the Center for Sustainability (CfS).

“This is a way for students to connect with their food, which is something I think we’ve lost in the past few years,” said Sockow. “People don’t really think about where our food comes from, so that’s something we’re trying to change and why we have this opportunity for students.”

“We provide everything to students that is needed to be successful in growing their own food including tools, seeds, harvesting trays and more,” said Sockow.

Since the Garden’s inception in 2015, Sockow estimated more than 150 students have worked in the Garden to grow their own food, learn about gardening and learn sustainable food practices. Students can reserve a plot with friends or can sign up individually to be paired with other students. Classes can also participate in this activity.

“This is a great way to meet like-minded people and friends,” Sockow noted. “We had a group of six people last year who didn’t know each other and ended up growing food together and bonding through the experience. You get to know people who like the same things you do.”

Holley encourages his fellow students to get involved in the Campus Community Garden because having control over your own food sources is important for the planet’s future.

“Other students should become part of the Campus Community Garden because, simply, it’s important,” he said. “It’s important to learn gardening because it lets you control your food source. Why pay three dollars for a pound of apples when you can grow an apple tree in your backyard?”

More importantly, Holley noted, students can gain food independence and reduce waste by growing their own food.

“We are producing copious amounts of food commercially, yes, but at what cost?” he said. “In 2010 for example, we wasted 133 billion pounds of food. So not only are we growing commercial crops such as peanuts, corn and soybeans in detrimentally unsustainable ways, but a lot of the food is going to waste. By becoming food independent, you can help cut down this waste.”

The Garden is funded by student sustainability fees. For more information, visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu/sustainability.

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