Transylvania creates Community Garden
Led by chemistry professor Eva Csuhai and English professor Anthony Vital, a small group of faculty, staff, and friends began to dig on March 26, 2009. The group planted a young quince tree on a plot of land behind Poole Residence Hall on Bourbon Street, and the Transylvania Community Garden was born.
The organic garden will be integrated into the curriculum at Transy. Students will care for the plants, as well as read about and discuss the social, cultural, and physical benefits of community gardening. The garden will provide a source of fresh food for participants, enhance the community spirit on campus, and contribute to the emerging culture of sustainability.
“The project will encourage participants to think about what it might mean to live less wastefully, with focus on our human connection with life systems,” Vital said. “This meditative, reflective function of gardening is one found globally. There is nothing prescriptive about the meaning we attach to the gardens; we hope that all involved will find and communicate the meaning they find in the activities.”
Along with Karen Anderson, coordinator of community service and civic engagement, Vital and Csuhai led an organizational meeting for the garden in April, and during May term, Csuhai launched her interdisciplinary course, The Garden of Transylvania. Twenty students participated in the four-week class and invited others to join them in growing the garden. In addition to the community section, students, faculty, and staff signed up for personal plots, and a blog and wiki site were developed to enable garden members to easily share information.
A well-attended dedication for the garden was held on May 18. Outfitted with a shed built by students and Csuhai’s husband, William Verlander, that features a front porch, an umbrella table with lawn chairs, and a grape arbor, the garden is a place for everyone on campus to enjoy.
“All are welcome in the garden,” said Csuhai, “and if you’re itching to do something, you can always hoe the corn or beans, or sharpen some tools. Since so many people greeted the idea of the garden with such enthusiasm, we expect it to survive and thrive. It seems the time has come to think seriously about our connection to food, work, and nature.”
Learn more about gardening and the local-food movement by reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.