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Students return to regular workdays in organic garden, give back to community

Lane Beaulieu, junior psychology major, harvests green beans in the organic garden Aug. 31. The organic garden has open community work days every Tuesday from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Photo courtesy of Keely Carolan.

Students gathered in the organic garden for the first community work day since the return of in-person events at Westminster Tuesday. 

Located behind the Westminster Bike Collective, the organic garden is a place for students to gather and learn basic growing and harvesting skills, with the opportunity to take home some of the produce that they grow, according to biology professor Christy Clay. 

“I think after a year of COVID-19 it feels like students really appreciate having the opportunity to gather,” Clay said. 

Clay guides student work in the garden. She said the garden is a great place for students to engage with the food system by growing their own food and a way to give back to the community.

Professor Christy Clay explains to students their gardening tasks for the day in the organic garden Aug. 31. While Clay provides guidance when needed, the organic garden is student-run and coordinated. Photo courtesy of Keely Carolan.

Seeing as there is a lot of excess food grown in the garden, students donate extra produce to the Purple Basket, according to Clay. She said the Purple Basket is an on-campus resource addressing the needs of students with food or housing insecurity. 

Lexi Leith is a sophomore environmental studies major who said participating in the garden workdays is important for the campus community. 

“I feel like there’s a dissociation between how food is grown and the consumers,” Leith said. “These sort of community work days are good so people can get hands-on experience or just watch and see things grow firsthand.”

Other participants shared similar sentiments to Leith.

Lane Beaulieu is a junior psychology major who also attended the community work day. She said not only is the garden a great place for students to learn about growing their own food, it’s also great for personal reasons.

“Just being able to connect with nature, getting your hands dirty and being one with the Earth — it’s amazing,” Beaulieu said.

Students work with professor Christy Clay to harvest green beans in the organic garden. The garden held their first community work day on Aug. 31. Photo courtesy of Keely Carolan.

While the garden looked a little different last year, lacking community work days, and requiring students to make appointments to come work in the garden, Christy Clay is hopeful about the future of the garden with the return of in-person classes this year.

“I think the sense of urgency about our community’s needs feels like something that students are more aware about,” Clay said. “Also, the students seem excited about the potential to re-engage in the community, because food brings people together, right? The act of harvesting is a communal act.”


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Keely Carolan is a junior communication major from Seattle, Washington. When she isn’t studying, you’ll probably find her climbing, coaching kids at a local climbing gym, or setting routes at the school’s climbing wall. Keely hopes to one day intertwine her passion for climbing and journalism into an enjoyable career.

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