Campus / News / April 28, 2010

Knox Community Garden: dirty hands, clean food

Past Sigma Chi and down the road from the Eco House is a garden plot approximately the size of a Post dorm room. By fall it will be bursting with tomatoes, beans, squash, carrots and spices.

“There will be a lot,” said senior Valerie Gumpertz, treasurer of Garden Club, the group that plans, plants and cares for the garden throughout the year.

Gumpertz has been involved with the club since last year.

“I love gardening,” she said. “My mom has a garden…I’d help her. I was the official weed puller. One day I just asked [the Garden Club] if I could come pull dandelions.”

The club welcomes all interested parties, weed-pulling experience or no. Although it is helpful, Gumpertz called the garden “a learning process.”

“I think the purpose of the garden — how I see it — is giving people a chance to see what a garden’s about,” said Gumpertz. “Worse comes to worse, it doesn’t grow. It’s not something to be scared about…it’s more an outlet for those without experience.”

The club, which also provides tools, started their planting this past week, the result of a winter spent planning, purchasing seeds and starting seedlings. They will continue weeding and watering through the spring and into the summer — whoever remains at Knox over the summer will continue maintenance.

In the fall, the vegetables will be harvested and cooked for a dinner to be shared by all. The work is also shared by all—the garden is a group effort where everyone works on everything instead of each person having their own individual plot.

“It’s nice to be outside, to work with our hands, to be connected to that initial food production…things we can forget sitting in the cafeteria,” said Gumpertz.

The group also makes an effort not to use sprays or chemicals, although, due to potential chemicals in the soil, the garden is not technically organic. However, the club tries to buy seeds that are organic so the club can move in that direction in the future if it becomes a priority for members.

Although Gumpertz enjoys working in the garden, it can present challenges. Fluctuating membership due to students travelling abroad makes it difficult to find consistent leadership. The timing — “the preperation of the seeds — getting them at the right time and making sure we do everything at the right time”—can also be a challenge, said Gumpertz.

Overall, however, these challenges present little in the way of obstacles. Expect the garden to be flourishing come fall.

If you are interested in being a part of Garden Club, e-mail Rachel Klingler at rklingle@knox.edu.

Katy Sutcliffe


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