By: Stephanie Broido, Contributor
In juxtaposition to the human-made structures of brick and metal, nestled between walking paths and parking lots, lay a hidden gem of natural abundance. Behold, the USM Community Garden. The garden hosts 34 students, faculty and staff who grow organic produce from May to November each season. Throughout the season we have community potlucks, workshops and work-parties.
The ability to connect to nature in the city landscape has become a highlight of the USM experience for many. Being able to taste the seasonal strawberries in spring, the sun-ripened tomatoes in the heat of summer, and the squash and potatoes late in the season are a life changing experience. Food is really important in this crowd. Seasonal produce tastes better, is higher in nutrients and is full of life! Often gardeners walk to the garden during their break to pick fresh produce for their lunch. It’s a very rewarding experience.
So, how did it all start? The answer: students. The garden began as a student club in 2008. Then in 2013, the Office of Sustainability took over advisement of the garden space. Now, the garden is coordinated by an Eco-Rep Work Study student under the umbrella of the Office of Sustainability. Since its humble beginnings nine years ago, the garden space has doubled in size and continues to grow.
Gardeners pay a small yearly fee to rent a plot to grow whatever produce they desire. All materials including compost, tools, and water are provided. Non-GMO and organic seeds are available to all through the USM Seed Library located at the front desk of Glickman Library. Seasoned gardeners, as well as “newbies,” are welcomed. Interested in being a part of this community? We’re hosting info sessions the second week of March to explain how you can get a plot for the 2017 season. The first info session is on March 8 from 11 a.m. to noon, and the second info session is on March 9 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Both sessions will be in Glickman Library, Room 520. Join us and just imagine how it will taste biting into that first lush tomato of the summer.