University Garden Produce Served in Dining Hall
The harvest is in at Fairfield University.
“It’s so exciting to see it grow,” said garden intern Emma Bryant, ’15, one of two undergraduates who have been tending the University’s 3,000 square foot campus community garden this summer. Its bounty - vegetables, herbs and garlic – is being used as ingredients in student meals like a big batch of pesto with pasta recently on the menu in the dining hall.
Overseen by Biology Department Associate Professors Jennifer Klug and Tod Osier, the organic garden is an outdoor classroom for teaching sustainability and the value of growing your own food. Students in “Biology of Food” (BI74) will be planting lettuce in the garden this week while learning about soil, nutrients and weeds, and “Ecology and Society” (BI75) students will attend class there too this fall, for instance. It’s also a laboratory of sorts for students such as Jesus Nunez, ’14, and Tess Brown, ’07, MFA ‘11, who helped install a hive of Italian honeybees to learn about pollination. For garden intern, Hillary Maxson, ‘14 (pictured at right), a biology major/environmental studies minor, the garden is a place to do her Capstone project on how soil conditions impact the nutritional quality of tomatoes.
“I took the International Environmental Policy course with Dr. David Downie where I learned about GMOs [genetically modified organisms],” said Maxson, showing a visitor around the garden, located across from the Early Learning Center. “That made me say, ‘I need to learn about where my food is coming from, so I applied to work here.’ ”
Planting at the garden began in late May, specifically timed so that the harvest would generally come in when students are back on campus after Labor Day. Its 18 raised beds include root vegetables and perennials herbs. Kale and other food were planted just to introduce kids to new food choices.
“Summer squash, cherry tomatoes, jalapenos and lots of herbs have been brought to the dining hall so far,” said Dr. Klug, central to a group of faculty, staff, administrators and students who help tend the garden.
For Bryant, a vegetarian, the garden has been a major lesson in nutrition – and an opportunity to try healthy new recipes using its produce. Her blog, “Eating with Emma”, follows the many drinks and dishes she and Maxson have unveiled at campus luncheons, such as Chamomile Iced Tea and Swiss Chard Dip.
“It’s important to open peoples’ eyes to good nutrition,” said Bryant, an English major with a concentration in creative writing from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. “Like you can use kale this way or that way. I like showing people yummy recipes.”
Meanwhile, Maxson has blogged her journey to living a more sustainable and organic life at “Harvest by Hillary”.
CAPTION: Hillary Maxson, ‘14, picks chamomile from the campus garden to make tea.