Christian Brothers University’s (CBU) Social Justice Committee broke ground on their community garden in June 2009 in hopes of promoting nutrition, education, environmental awareness and fostering community. The garden, now sprouting watermelon, herbs, tomatoes and eggplant, is supplying food to the CBU community students, faculty, staff and alumni, in addition to, neighboring households that have nurtured it.
The initial summer harvest produced a few tastings of each vegetable but the fall crops are flourishing abundantly. As fall fades, onions and garlic will be planted for winter harvesting. The relatively small 120 x 45 foot plot is divided into rows for various vegetables and herbs, and also has a section for compost that will be used for fertilizing.
Chris Peterson, Garden Leader, states, “Fresh fruit and vegetables are sometimes too expensive for college students to afford. Here at the garden, we know that all food is grown without chemicals, is grown right on the CBU premises, and provides us a healthier selection.”
One goal of the garden is to promote service learning. Several CBU students believe that the plot is an opportunity to create a senior project that will benefit more than their GPA. Engineering students have offered to build a more economical and earth-conscious irrigation system. Biology majors hope to study the plants while chemistry students plan to test the soil.
In addition, the service learning reaches beyond the sciences to the liberal arts, as the garden is designed to highlight social justice through topics such as fair trade and localization of food supplies. Peterson states, “This is the start of a new conscience. We are becoming more aware of fair trade problems and the need to reduce financial and environmental costs by not hauling food in from all over the world that we can grow here.”
Dylan Perry, President of the Social Justice Committee, underlines the community aspect, stating, “This area is for everyone. It is meant not only as a healthy alternative to fast food and a good way to exercise but as a site for meeting, learning and growing.”
Upholding the Lasallian tradition that is the cornerstone of the University, the garden is designed to teach and give back to the community that has given so much to the garden. “We hope, in the bigger picture, to one day have such a supply from the garden that we can donate to local soup kitchens and even the CBU cafeteria,” states Perry. ###