Calvin Garden celebrates end of season

Photo+Credit+Esther+Ryou

Photo Credit Esther Ryou

Halloween this year offered a chilly but warm-hearted afternoon at the Calvin College community garden. Despite the rain and temperatures in the low 50s, nearly 25 students came to participate in the conclusion of the second season at the Hampshire garden.

Students and community members spread fresh compost, “tucked in” the garden beds with leaves and straw, and laughed at the ridiculousness of working in the pouring rain. Danni Bouwer, a local Kentwood resident, said she was surprised that so many people cared to brave the elements and support the community.

With many soil-smeared hands working together, volunteers finished the task after a couple hours. The garden beds are covered with organic matter to hold in nutrients and protect soil biota from the harsh winter winds.

Afterwards, the group warmed up with a meal made usingwith ingredients from the community garden. Participants all enjoyed rich potato leek soup, chicken chilli, bread, and salad made with fresh garden greens including kale, mizuna, beet greens, arugula and more.

During this meal, senior and student manager Sunshine Cahill, told the crowd about the three missions of the garden. “First, the garden serves to provide fresh food to students on campus,” said Cahill. Garden produce has been served in the dining halls, Johnny’s and Uppercrust, which is indicated by signs.

“The second mission is education,” Cahill continued. The garden is a unique place to learn more about the origin of food and how it grows, like how brussels sprouts grow like globs on a stalk. The garden also serves as an educational space in how it displays holistic techniques, such as planting on the land-contours and companion planting which the garden managers implemented. A prominent feature of the artistically designed garden is the herb spiral, a vertical gardening technique that allows drier herbs to grow on the quicker-draining top of the spiral and shadier moisture-loving herbs to grow on lower areas of the spiral.

“The third mission of the garden is to provide a community space,” said Cahill. Away from the jarring East Beltline traffic, the garden offers a quiet ethereal atmosphere. With a hammock, a pet a rabbit, a beehive, the occasional unwelcome deer, and much to explore, the garden is a golden hangout spot. Wishing more students could experience this, Cahill and Janaya Crevier, the other student manager, have talked of creating a larger congregation area in the adjacent lot, perhaps as an outdoor music venue. They would be happy to hear any other sincere ideas from students.

The conversation with the volunteers was hopeful when discussing future plans over the meal. Dinner was a delicious conclusion to prosperous season.

To learn more about the garden and how to be involved in the spring, visit the Calvin Community Garden Facebook page.