CCBC Essex student Patrick Megher spent much of his childhood helping his family grow a garden.
The 20-year-old Parkville man sees gardening as a form of relaxing and helping him get in touch with the environment. So when Megher heard about a community organic garden on campus, he signed up to volunteer.
“We grew our own food for so long,” he said. “Why can’t we do more of that today?”
Megher’s opinion is apparently shared by many other students, faculty, staff and even nearby residents of the college. More than 100 volunteers are involved in some way with the community garden, which began a little more than a year ago, thanks to a $6,000 grant from the campus.
This grant allowed students, with the help of campus workers, to build a fence, set up a shed and purchase the needed equipment.
Environmental science professor Beth Shrader said those involved with the garden have harvested about 54 bushels of vegetables—including potatoes, green beans and cucumbers—in the past year.
Most of the harvest has been donated to the Eastern Family Resource Center, a shelter near campus.
The garden has been such a success that CCBC Essex recently dedicated a new 14-by-16-foot greenhouse, which will soon allow vegetables to be grown year-round. CCBC provided a $4,000 grant for the structure.
“The garden has become a great community activity,” Shrader said. “It’s not only an educational opportunity, it’s a great way to meet friends, understand the environment and help those who might be hungry. The greenhouse allows us to take this project to a new level."
Student Ben Alexander said working on the community garden has been a rewarding experience.
“It’s amazing how much this garden has grown in the last year,” Alexander said. “I’ve met a lot of new friends through this, and to know that the shelter has benefited from our work makes me feel good, too.”