Beginning in June, an on-campus garden will give students and community members the chance to forage for food and cultivate their own.
At their April 5 meeting, the Associated Students of Central Oregon Community College voted via an “agreement of resolution” to allot $16,000 to fund the garden, meaning that based on the amount, the vote will need to go through another committee before the funding can be allotted.
Lisa Barnett, garden club founder and president, said the garden club has “tentative approval” from student government to fund the garden, but because of the amount they are getting secondary approval.
“Support from the community is outstanding,” Kurt Killinger, director of legislative affairs, stated, describing the garden as “a wonderful thing to leave [ASCOCC 2012-13’s] mark with.”
The garden will serve as an outdoor classroom, according to Barnett, and will be located on the corner of Regency Street and College Way. She envisions it as a “learning garden” for Central Oregon Community College’s science, art and photography departments.
COCC has agreed to install underground irrigation to the garden, Barnett stated. In the meantime, garden club members have been utilizing an off-campus greenhouse and hand-watering plants.
The garden will be managed by COCC’s garden club, according to Barnett, but the garden is open to everybody.
“We’ll have community plots,” Barnett said. “We’ll be growing food for food banks. We’re hoping to have other clubs take an interest and grow their own sections. Basically anyone can use that space for instructional purposes.”
The garden club is in the process of getting professional architectural drawings completed, according to Barnett. They are currently working with Matt McCoy, COCC’s vice president for administration and Joe Viola, director of Campus Services.
“Once [the architectural drawings are] done, it’s a go,” Barnett said. “Our timeline is to have the garden open for business in June.”
An eight-foot tension-wire fence will surround the garden, according to Barnett. The low-profile fencing will allow outsiders to view the garden but will deter the deer population.
As far as security measures go, Barnett is not concerned with theft or vandalism.
“[Vandalism] is a concern in a lot of community gardens, but our whole way of thinking is, ‘If you want something to eat, please take it because that’s what it’s there for,’ ” Barnett said. “We’re going to have what’s called a ‘snack track.’ Basically it’s a path right down the middle of the garden where people are free to come pick what they want. We don’t want you to rip all our veggies out of the ground, but help yourself to what you need.”
The garden stemmed from an idea that originally came to Barnett during a COCC writing class in June 2011.
“We were encouraged to write about a project that would benefit the community,” Barnett said, “so I started researching having a garden on campus.”
She submitted her proposal to COCC writing instructor, Karyl Severson, who encouraged Barnett to move forward with the idea.
Next, she pitched the idea to Karen Roth, COCC’s Multicultural Activities director, and Master Gardener, Barnett said. Roth serves as the garden club advisor and offers gardening tips at meetings. During their April 11 seed starting workshop, members planted vegetable seeds to be sprouted at home and replanted in the community garden.
However, vegetables aren’t the only thing growing. The garden club has retained its founding members and continues to gain new members weekly, according to Barnett. The club consists of gardeners of all experience levels who are interested in sustainability, being outdoors and “saving the world through food.”
COCC’s garden club meets weekly in the Multicultural Center and at the garden plot. According to Roth, meetings are open to all COCC and Oregon State University-Cascades students.
“We’re all really individually motivated for different reasons and that’s the beauty of it,” Barnett said. “Gardening is just rad. It connects you to so many things. It connects you to food, the environment and people.”