A solar panel-powered pump for watering is triggered by floats in the rain barrels. All water and power to the garden is off the grid, as long as water quality (monitored by students in the School of Public Health) is okay.
The garden is maintained as an extracurricular activity – no credit – by the Student Garden Club, whose members have regular work hours here. Also, a class in sustainable agriculture sometimes takes place in the garden, with students doing real work. And there are one or two paid summer interns to tend the garden. Food from the garden is donated to a campus food pantry.
Fixing a Parking Lot Runoff Problem
The garden is also a successful stormwater management project, one that treats runoff from an uphill parking lot while raising awareness of the problem of episodic water scarcity in this relatively wet region. (With climate change, droughts are longer and rains come in greater downpours.)
The National Science Foundation provided a grant to build a cistern, using the research findings of engineering professor Dr. Allen Davis. He studies how and the degree to which bioretention cells could cleanse surface flow stormwater for irrigation purposes. Three swales empty into the sistern.
Here’s a video about how the whole system was made.
Bee Research, Too
The garden also houses the university’s bee research program, where a variety of reproductive chambers are monitored to learn which are the most successful. You can see into the chambers and actually hear the bee activity!
In Campus News
Yesterday when I was writing this post I got a laugh from this headline in the student newspaper about the traumatizing sight of a caterpillar in some broccoli. Do you suppose gardening would have helped reduce that trauma? The traumatized student quoted here is a