With the end of summer and warm weather comes the end of the growing season for most crops in our area. For the Griffin Garden Club, the first growing season was a surprising success. I helped create the club under Keely McCarthy, Ph.D., after she taught my freshman year college writing course about food. I am an environmental science major, but had no previous experience gardening or growing my own food, so I was excited to “dig in” and learn a bit.
Starting from Scratch
In the fall of 2015, I, along with many other students, started the garden from scratch – beginning with taking measurements to even out the ground and moving stones to build a wall. By the end of the spring semester in 2016, the garden was ready to go. Students planted tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, squash, cucumbers, corn, peppers, peas and more to maintain over the summer.
The students of the club, as well as Bob Meyer, PhD., and Dr. McCarthy, our advisers, had no particular strategy going into the experience. We planted rather spaced out, with a drip irrigation hose to reduce water loss, and covered the entire plot of land with chicken wire in an attempt to keep pests out. We also had outside help from freshman English classes.
To our surprise, most of the crops we planted gave off some produce at one point or another during the season. Some plants in particular did exceptionally well, including the cucumbers, tomatoes and corn.
Ultimately, this past season was more of a trial and error experiment, and we were able to gain a great amount of experience and information to apply next year. In total, we were able to grow about 85 pounds of food and donated close to 60 pounds of it to nearby food kitchens!
Plans for the garden this semester include expanding our wall and fencing to encompass our entire allotted plot of land. This will give us more land to experiment with and utilize in the spring. We also plan on hosting a few events throughout the school year.
The club has gained a lot of new members this year, and we are very excited for another go-around.