The Quest community garden was created three years ago by Cassandra Elliot, an inaugural student, as an experiential learning project. The goals of the garden were simple: it was to be a teaching garden, where all students could experiment, learn, and build a community around the land and the hard, gratifying work it takes to produce food. Since the first season, the garden has grown threefold and has produced plenty of food for students, staff, and the cafeteria.
Although Cass left no specific structure or plan for the leadership of the garden, students in the years since her graduation have taken initiative to ensure successful harvests and improve the garden as a whole. The communal nature of the garden has also allowed for a great deal of experimentation, from attempting the perfect tomato to making the cob shed that now houses tools and seeds. Every student can have their own connection with the garden, but Elliot’s original projects and ideas are still visible.
The garden is largely experimental, but there is also coordinated effort by the Quest Garden Club to continually maintain and improve what is already there. The Garden Club receives funding from the Student’s Representative Council for seeds and equipment but all of the work is done voluntarily, much of it by students who stay on campus during the summer to work for Maintenance or Student Affairs.
But of course the work continues throughout the seasons: this year the herb garden was re-shaped into a beautiful spiral, a new greenhouse was built, and four new beds were added, among other things. A chalkboard on display in the Atrium building lists ongoing projects and things that people can do if they want to help out.
The food, sun, and community are great, but there are theraputic benefits as well. Becca Dickinson, who took care of the garden with other students last summer, says “…it’s like free therapy. You don’t have to pay and the plants just listen to all of your problems!”
Interested in helping out with a small project, or even getting involved for the entire season? Keep an eye out for the Quest Garden Club at the Club Fair in September, or just head out to the garden to see for yourself.
-Article credit to Maymie Tegart (adapted from her original piece in the Mark) and Brad Klees