At the end of the Fall 2013 semester, Dr. Martha McKevlin became interested in service learning projects after completing several surveys on the amount of service learning in my courses. She started thinking about ways to incorporate service learning into coursework at USC Salkehatchie. Over Christmas break, McKevlin attended a “Let’s Go!” team meeting, part of the “Eat Smart, Move More” program, where she listened to a presentation on “Community and Worksite Gardens” given by Reece Lyerly with Gardening for Good in Greenville, SC. It was then that McKevlin realized that a campus community garden at USC Salkehatchie could be used to achieve many goals including service learning.
Unknown to McKevlin, First Lady Patricia More-Pastides was encouraging all the regional campuses of USC to initiate community gardens. Two community gardens were already in existence on the Columbia campus and were well received by students, faculty and staff. Dean Ann Carmichael was aware of the First Lady’s interest and had been considering just how we could accomplish the installation of our own Salkehatchie Campus Community Garden. When McKevlin approached Dean Carmichael in January with what she thought was an original idea for a garden at Salk, Carmichael was delighted. Here was the Salkehatchie answer to fulfill Mrs. Moore-Pastides vision of community gardens on every regional campus. A committee of interested faculty and staff was formed shortly thereafter.
Mrs. Moore-Pastides has long been interested in healthy eating and sustainable living. She is the author of two cookbooks, Greek Revival: Cooking for Life and Greek Revival from the Garden: Growing and Cooking for Life. To make her community garden vision a reality, Mrs. Moore-Pastides uses the proceeds from her books to support health and sustainability initiatives such as campus community gardens. After a short telephone interview with the First Lady and her gardener, Charlie Ryan, she invited the Salkehatchie committee to apply for funding from “The Pastides Health and Sustainability Fund”.
The application asked what McKelvin hoped to achieve with our campus garden, what type of garden she envisioned, who would be involved in the installation of the garden, and how the produce of the garden be used. These were all thought provoking questions that made the committee think about the plans for our Salkehatchie Campus Community Garden.
The committee decided on three basic goals for the garden:
1) Provide students, faculty, and staff with alternative food choices contributing to a healthy diet.
2) Foster a stronger sense of connection between students and their USC family.
3) Enrich campus life with opportunities for “beyond the classroom” learning.
McKelvin and the committee decided to start with an East Campus garden. If the campus community garden was successful on the East Campus, then the community garden would expand to the West Campus.
USC Salkehatchie was generously awarded $2,200 from the University of South Carolina “Pastides Health and Sustainability Fund,” which was used to build raised beds to be filled with garden soil, to purchase garden tools and to supply water to the site. Salkehatchie’s maintenance team has constructed the four raised beds (4’x8’x2’), complete with Gothic finials, arranged in a square with a central crossing alley.
The committee, comprised of faculty and staff, will initially develop governing rules. However, interested students are encouraged to form a club to maintain oversight of the garden. The four raised beds are available for adoption at no cost to individual students, staff, or faculty or small groups on a first-come, first-served basis. Once a bed is adopted, the group will be given access to tools to help them plant and maintain their garden. Information on vegetables and herbs including planting dates and days to harvest will be provided to interested gardeners.