An ongoing program that has begun to become self-funding is the Community Garden, located close to Perkins Observatory and the House of Peace and Justice (P&J), where its manager Susannah Waxman lives. It was founded in the summer of 2010 by two students through a Theory-to-Practice-to-Theory (TIPIT) grant.
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John Moriarty (’10) and Morgan Payne (’11) started the program, then passed it on to Megan Fris (’13) before Tree House resident Alex Kerensky (’14) took charge. After Kerensky graduated, it passed to Waxman, a senior.
“I was lucky enough to be able to take care of this over the summer and I was allowed to expand it so I dug up some plots,” Waxman said.
“I got help from the House of Peace and Justice and Tree House, and Chartwells has pretty much always agreed to buy whatever produce we give them.”
So far the garden has earned a couple hundred dollars from selling the dining service produce, according to Waxman.
“I think that is more than enough to buy seeds for next year and help with upkeep, so it does seem to be a really sustainable thing going on here,” she said. “It just needs people that care about it.”
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The garden also gives OWU students and local residents fresh produce for free; Waxman encourages them to pick it straight from the garden. She only sells what’s not taken by other students or eaten by P&J residents – and already they’ve had plenty to eat , including several Italian dinners from all the tomatoes.
They’ve been weighing the tomatoes in measurements of Waxman’s own body weight, she said, and so far there’s been several.
“It (the garden) has been part of the house culture, which is really nice to see,” she said. “I think it’s a really healthy thing.”
The garden also provided squash, pumpkins, peppers, beans, beets, dill, cilantro, berries and corn.
Waxman hopes the garden will play a bigger role on campus, but said it would need to move to a larger space and have a paid staff person in charge to really do so – specifically a sustainability coordinator.
“Realistically, I wouldn’t expect a garden in front of the observatory to feed very many people,” she said.
“It would need to be something other than a volunteer operation (to expand),” she said.
“I hope even next year that the school recognizes that if it’s this big and there’s holes in the ground now then that they should really maybe pay someone to stay over the summer and do a good job because I think this can attract a lot of good attention if it’s kept well.”