Vol State Garden

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Professor Jeff Kent in Vol States garden

By: Gloria Cortes 

Beside the Wallace Health Sciences Complex building’s parking lot lies the Volunteer State College Community Garden.

Master Gardeners maintain the garden with the help of professors Jeff Kent and Kelly Ormsby.

This community garden is open to all Vol State students and faculty, whether they would like to pick fresh produce or to take a break between classes.

“There’s something about seeing a plant grow that’s really nice, that’s really unique… . It’s just something about seeing something grow, and seeing fruit on raspberry vines or blackberry vines, and being able to pick it and eat it.” said biology professor Dr. Kent.

After the destructive tornado that struck Vol State in 2006, it was created to help the campus have a more peaceful place to go to.

“To promote something positive on campus, we started that community garden,” said Kent.

While the garden is a place for rest and relaxation, it is also a product of Master Gardeners and other Vol State gardeners’ work.

Students are also encouraged to plant in the garden, but they must contact Master Gardener Joanne Brown first.

“Students are welcome to participate but need to do so through the Master Gardeners who manage the project (a Hold Harmless waiver is required). Joanne Brown is the project leader. She is on campus every Monday morning (usually beginning at 7 a.m.). Volunteer Days are the third Saturday of each month from 7:30-11:30 a.m.,” wrote Kelly Ormsby in an email.

Ormsby is also involved with the campus garden.

Volunteer gardening can help fulfill students’ Tennessee Promise volunteer requirements since students would be providing a service to the campus community.

Through Ormsby’s Adopt-A-Bed program, groups can adopt a raised garden bed, and some produce from the garden will go to The Feed.

“Groups/clubs, classes, offices/departments can complete an application outlining their project idea through Sept. 28. Applications will be available at the garden gate, where they will also be collected. Applicants will: select a bed from the garden map provided (both empty and pre-planted beds are available), create a design (this may include a theme, information for visitors, additional plants, etc.), and complete the project submission form (outlining the idea, who will assist with maintenance, including weeding in and around the bed, helping to harvest as applicable for the Feed, our VSCC student food bank).” wrote Ormsby.

The garden was created as a communal place of peace and productivity.  Students are always welcome.

“I think the garden will help kids who don’t have the sufficient funds or the availability of food at home.  I think it’s very compassionate that Vol State has provided children that can’t eat at home with food. I think it’s also because student hunger and poverty levels being at such a high rate in America today and because of lack of resources and lower-income families that the garden offers kids that live in those situations food away from home.” said student Chelsei Copeland

“I know I would use the garden… . I am living in my own apartments, so there are times where I have to choose between gas or food. So, it’s definitely something I think I’d use as a young adult trying to live on their own, having to budget money in different ways,” said Copeland

The Vol State Community Garden provides positivity and fresh produce to those in need of it, and it encourages students to participate in the campus community.