To most students, fresh vegetables come out of a can. Dr. Nadine Garner is hoping to change that by creating a permaculture garden behind Huntingdon House this summer.
The project is being funded by the Sustainability Education Research Project (SERP), a new branch underneath the Civic and Community Engagement and Research Project (CCERP), which is headed by Dr. Garner.
“This is my brainchild. I went to Dr. DeSantis, the Associate Provost for CCERP, and asked him if we could do something with sustainability on campus. Thankfully he and the rest of Millersville have been very supportive,” says Dr. Garner.
The mission of SERP is to “educate the MU community about the three pillars of sustainability (environmental protection, economic justice, and social equality); provide opportunities for MU to directly participate in sustainability initiatives on and off campus; and to encourage student and faculty-led research and service on sustainability.”
The permaculture garden will encompass all three pillars of sustainability. “By getting the students involved in the process of gardening, they will learn not only how to garden, but to take care of themselves,” said Dr. Garner. “There has been a direct link to what people eat, social justice and economic equity.”
Learning how to garden and how to grow food shortens the gap between those students who cannot afford to buy fresh vegetables and those who can. In essence, there is economic equity. It also teaches students responsibility, giving them confidence and a way to give back to the community. This is their social justice.
In addition to the permaculture garden, there will be a monarch waystation filled with milkweed for monarch butterflies to lay their eggs. This rounds out the final pillar of environmental protection.
So just what is a permaculture garden? The term ‘perma’ is short for permanent and ‘culture’ is short for agriculture. Combined, the word means a sustainable and self-maintained agricultural system modeled from natural ecosystems.
The garden is going to be a fenced in raised bed system with the main center piece focusing on vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, beans, and Swiss chard. The sides will be herbs and wildflowers.
This garden is for students only. This means all the food and work will be done by students – no faculty and no Millersville residents.
“Students will benefit from hands-on experience on how to grow their own food,” said Dr. Garner.
There is a small house located behind Huntingdon House and perfectly positioned next to the garden. It is affectionately called “the garden house” and will serve has a place where the vegetables will be washed and food demonstrations will take place. Dr. Garner is also working on installing a rain catching system from the roof to help with watering the garden.
There will be two garden stewards to make sure the garden is cared for: Libby Harris and Johnathon Cramer who are doing an internship with Dr. Garner.
A similar permaculture garden is currently across from Wheatland High School. Students from Millersville laid the groundwork for the garden on April 20 as part of the “Into the Streets” volunteer program.
As part of the sustainability program, Dr. Garner is trying to salvage anything she possibly can, including the railing from the bridge next to the pond. The concrete foundation has been deemed unsafe and will have to be redone this summer.
This structure has been a part of Millersville since 1876 and will continue to stay on Millersville’s campus but have a new home: the permaculture garden.
If you are interested in using the permaculture garden, contact Dr.Garner at email@example.com. Since the start-up cost for any garden is high, help make Millersville a sustainable community by donating your garden tools.