The SD Department partners with the Office of Sustainability (OOS), ASU Gardening club, ASU REI, and others to raise food on campus and educate people about increasing food security in local communities.
The SD Garden is located at the LLC; it was started in 2006 by students. The SD Garden produces food year-round in raised beds. We grow cool-season crops (ex. spinach, kale, chard) in the spring and fall, and warm-season crops (ex. tomato, squash, peppers) in summer. We use ecological methods that mimic nature, including the "3 Sisters," and reduce synthetic chemicals. Our biointensive methods can produce food in small areas and model how cities can help feed themselves.
We use “season extension” methods so that plants can transform solar energy into food year-round. Our greenhouse has active solar collection and never freezes inside. We start seedlings early in the spring in the greenhouse and then transplant into a “high-tunnel” hoophouse that is covered with plastic. We also transplant into raised beds when the ground warms up in summer. In the fall, we set up “low tunnels” with fabric cover to protect crops into the winter.
We build soil fertility and cycle nutrients with compost that we make on-site. We collect food scraps and coffee grounds from students in the LLC and mix it with carbon sources, such as shredded leaves and spent plants. We also keep worms in an in-ground bin for vermicompost. We use no-till methods to protect organic matter and soil life.
We promote biodiversity and base our weed and pest control on beneficial interactions among plants, microbes, and insects, instead of synthetic chemicals. Ex. We use biological methods, such as cover cropping, to control weeds. We practice seed-saving to promote heirloom plants. We also focus on perennial crops, such as asparagus and rhubarb, that come back every year and do not need to be re-planted.
We harvest rainwater from the roofs of the greenhouse and compost shed to help cycle and preserve freshwater. When we irrigate, we use drip tape to reduce excessive evaporation.
We harvest and pack produce (generally on Wed afternoons) and follow food safety practices, washing greens in the outdoor wash area. We have a solar dehydrator for community use. Produce is donated to the Mountaineer Food Resource Hub.
Ecological food production not only produces food. It also produces ecosystem services, such as carbon draw-down, diversity, pollination, etc., and can build community.
For more details on the SD Garden, see Virtual Tour.
The Office of Sustainability also maintains other campus gardens (Roots Garden and the Child Development Care Garden). Different types of gardens engage gardeners of different ages and experience, from early-childhood learning to urban farming.