Want to grow some carrots and lettuce on campus this semester? The Sustainable Development Department's garden and greenhouse is located on campus beside the Living Learning Center (LLC) and is a teaching facility for sustainable agriculture and food systems, where students can work outdoors and learn together.
Vegetables are raised year-round. Students plant cool-season crops (kale, lettuce, spinach) in the fall in raised beds. When fall nights get cold, plastic covers are placed on beds to extend the growing season. In the winter, hardy crops are kept in the passive solar greenhouse. In the early spring, students start vegetable seedlings in the greenhouse and then transplant seedlings into raised beds under a fabric row cover. Students harvest excess crops by the end of the semester for donation to the ASU Food Bank.
In the summer, the garden operates as a community garden and is bursting with ripe raspberries, squash, and tomatoes. If you would like to try out your own summer garden bed, see the Adopt-A-Plot program. There are also community beds along the walkway for u-pick, so anyone can sample our fresh veggies and learn about local food. The SD Garden participates with the BRWIA Community of Gardens network and Farm Tour each year. Internships are also available for credit.
The garden has a compost education center to teach how to compost organic waste and food scraps, including slow and hot composting, tumblers, worm bins, etc. The garden participates in the university zero waste program and students in the LLC dorm compost their food scraps in the garden compost bunker. Worker bees provide pollination and honey in the garden, and we aim to use sustainable technologies such as a solar drier to dry tomatoes. Students also express themselves through art in the garden, and the Tommy Walsh Memorial learning circle on the lawn is a common gathering place.
SD teaches agroecology courses in the garden, which focus on bio-intensive vegetable production for urban agriculture, concepts which can also be applied in commercial farming (See SD Farm).
The Appalachian State University Gardening Club helps manage and maintain the garden—several beds are reserved year-round for student club use. Students in the Watauga College learning community also have reserved beds. The SD Garden is a key partnership for community-based food production and building a local food system.
Ways to get involved are below; no experience necessary.
- Register for SD courses in agroecology for theory and practice.
- Join garden work days (Tuesdays 1 pm and Thursdays 4 pm) for an hour or so.
- Join the ASU Gardening Club (see App. State Clubs) and plant a garden bed with other students.
- Got a minute? Pick some vegetables from the Community Bed; pull a few weeds; water the greenhouse.
- Summertime: Adopt your own plot.