The community garden is off to a running start this year thanks to the work senior Megan Funk did over the summer.
A garden is a year-round responsibility, but unfortunately college is not, and in the past the garden has suffered from neglect during the summer when students were not around. The Community Garden Club had been trying to fill this gap with volunteers who were in Galesburg over the summer for other reasons, but it was “hard to have steady commitment from a volunteer,” senior and co-president of the club Rebecca Ott said.
The club tried to correct this problem by applying for funds from the Green Fee, a sum of money taken out of student activity fees every year, to create a job for a student worker to care for the garden over the summer.
Their request was granted and Funk, who volunteered for the position, worked 11 hours each week, maintaining the garden, harvesting and beginning planting for the next year.
The program was a success from both Funk’s perspective and the perspective of the Community Garden club.
“We have a lot to start from this fall,” Ott said, the summer worker program was a “big success.”
Funk reported that she had a good experience and is “more confident in my gardening skills now.”
Her work with the community garden is very relevant to Funk’s senior research in environmental studies. Funk is looking at and analyzing community gardens at different schools in an attempt to discover how to make gardens sustainable in the long-term. This interest was sparked by an internship involving community gardens at Gateway Greening in St. Louis.
Funk hopes that Knox’s garden will grow and become more sustainable as well. Her goal is that the community will become more involved with the garden and that the garden will eventually provide produce for the Hard Knox Café.
Ott would also like to see larger harvests and more produce from the garden and “greater awareness about gardens in general, specifically community gardens.”
The value of the community garden goes beyond the food it produces. According to Funk, we are “not associated with our food,” and the garden helps people “to bring food production to a small scale, to relate to it.”
The garden gives people a “greater understanding about where your food comes from and how the environment affects what we consume,” Ott said, citing the example of how the dry summer is resulting in a smaller harvest this fall.