HOPES GROW FOR WARTBURG’S GARDEN

NICOLE HASEK, TRUMPET NEWS WRITER

Since 2010, Wartburg has had a community garden that students can volunteer for to help sustainability efforts.

The garden thrives during the summer, but the sustainability department and dining services want more fresh produce in the Mensa during the school year.

“The garden unfortunately hasn’t had as much impact as we would like, and I think that’s the struggle with anything locally sourced, being able to find enough quantity in a timely manner,” Marty Johnson, director of dining services, said. “It’s kind of tough to find fresh produce in the middle of February in Iowa.”

Johnson said consistent coordination and communication between dining services and the sustainability department could fix this problem. By planning meals for the Mensa sooner, they would be able to grow produce that would be needed and grow enough that it could be used for longer periods of time. 

“This year we’re trying to work it out with sustainability that we coordinate in the spring and say, ‘OK, is there something in fall that would be timely that we can get in enough quantity that we could incorporate it into a menu item and put it on the menu?’” Johnson said.

The garden increases sustainability on campus by allowing the Wartburg community to be conscious consumers by using locally grown produce. This eliminates the cost of transportation when buying produce from outside sources, according to Carina Collet, fourth-year student and student manager for the sustainability department. 

“We bring compost to the city from the Mensa and then we take completed compost and put it in the garden, and that helps with the visibility of sustainability on campus,” said Collet.

THE COMMUNITY GARDEN IS LOCATED BEHIND LOHE HALL ON WARTBURG’S CAMPUS. PHOTO BY KATIE HIRV.

During the winter, when it is more difficult to grow fresh produce on campus, the Mensa still often offers fresh vegetables in the salad bar. During the summer when the garden has its fullest variety of fresh vegetables, the sustainability department rents it out for no cost, and the student workers take care of what is planted. The garden consists of 10 beds and a shed, located behind Löhe Hall on Wartburg’s campus.

There are hopes to add classes or summer programs that involve the garden and teach students about plants and produce, according to Collet. 

“I think it’s really rewarding for people when we have produce from the garden in the Mensa,” Collet said. “That really shows we’re all put together, we care about sustainability, we care about where it comes from, and we’re trying to be conscious consumers.”

A wide variety of produce has been grown in the garden, including zucchinis, tomatoes, beans, and squash.

To get involved, email sustainability@wartburg.edu.

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