The soil has been spread and the plots marked. Soon, seasoned and novice gardeners, staff and faculty, and Cedar-Riverside neighbors will be digging and planting in Augsburg’s first community garden.
The idea of a campus garden started with a conversation between Abigail Crampton Pribbenow and Mary Laurel True, associate director of community service-learning, when the Pribbenows were on campus during the presidential interview process. Both women shared enthusiasm for a community garden based on the “Edible Schoolyard,” a project started at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California.
Tim Dougherty, community and civic engagement student coordinator, sees the project as both a way to promote civic engagement through a welcoming gathering space and a commitment to provide healthy food for the Campus Kitchen and neighborhood gardeners. Forty 9′ x 9′ plots are contained in the garden, 33 of which are currently spoken for by students, faculty, staff, community neighbors, and groups like the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota and the Brian Coyle Center.
Augsburg junior Ruth Senum is the garden intern. She will teach neighborhood youth groups about types of plants and the different ways they grow. For one of her activities, Senum hopes to use a Three Sisters-style garden — a Native American trio of corn, beans, and squash — to teach students about native plants and indigenous culture.
The garden encourages staff members to work together. Judy Johnson and Emily Nugent of the Office of Adult Admissions will tend a salad garden. Johnson, who says she has been an amateur gardener for decades, is looking forward to working with Nugent, who has no gardening experience. “Judy knows all about gardening, so I expect to learn a lot from her,” said Nugent. “I am excited to get outdoors and do something with the earth and to have a virtual salad right behind my office that I can work on over lunch.”
In addition to providing healthy, organic food and an opportunity to get out of the office, Johnson sees the garden as a spot to interact with others. “Gardeners tend to exchange tips and gab,” she said.
On the north side of the plots, history professor Phil Adamo’s summer class will design and construct a labyrinth with the help of Bruce Rowe, Augsburg’s head groundskeeper. Unlike the mystifying corn mazes we might find in the Minnesota countryside, this unicursal labyrinth will provide a “single path” for meditative meandering. Students interested in this course can find information at www.augsburg.edu/summer.