Lafayette Students Learn More Than How to Grow Food
College's organic community garden growing a community
"This garden is 2 acres," said Jennifer Bell, a recent graduate and employee of Lafayette College. "There are 43 plots for community gardening and the rest is where students grow healthy produce without pesticides or fertilizers."
The plot is the Lafayette College Organic Garden on Sullivan Trail just south of Metzger Field Athletic Complex. Bell, who studied geology and environmental geosciences at the college, has worked in the garden since 2008 while attending school.
"People are free to plant what they like," she said. What they like includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, Swiss chard, carrots, onions, cabbage, beans and peas and more. Here and there some of the gardeners are growing corn, strawberries, sunflowers, cantaloupes, nasturtiums, herbs and other food plants.
Weeding is the responsibility of each plot owner. Some have installed sheets of black plastic to help with this backbreaking chore. To help control insects, marigolds are everywhere.
"The gentle slope faces south," Bell noted. "And it is downhill from the maintenance building where we get the water we need."
Rainwater is collected from the roof to feed the garden's watering system. Since the garden is downhill from the building, gravity feeds the water into the hoses running along the upper fence. Gardeners tap into the system and water their plots as needed.
Lafayette owns the land here, as well as the surrounding acreage. But funds were needed for the watering system, a small building for implements, fencing and the compost bins.
"We compost food waste from the college's dining halls," Bell explained. "And food grown here is furnished back to them." Extra food is donated to the homeless shelter Safe Harbor in Easton.
Earlier this year, their efforts caught the attention of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Lafayette team received a $10,000 grant to help fund the project. An additional $5,000 was received from the Clinton Global Initiative University. The team also received a $41,000 state grant.