As spring slowly enfolds this year, WCC’s community garden is in the process of being transformed from a nearly barren space to a vibrant collection of plants.
According to James Spaich, a professor in WCC’s English department and co-founder of the community garden, “Last year was the first year for production, and this year will be the second year, which should be dynamite.”
Work is being done to add new garden beds, as well as refurbishing the older beds to prepare them for spring planting, among other projects. This includes but is not limited to walking paths in the garden’s central bed for easier access, a table at the west end of the garden for a place to sit, and raised beds at the east end for participants with possible mobility issues.
The garden was started by Brian Cope and James Spaich, two instructors from WCC’s English department. However, the idea for a community garden had floated around campus for several years before it had become a reality.
The duo submitted a grant proposal that the grounds maintenance team and administration approved, and construction began in October 2021.
The garden’s first beds for planting were established shortly thereafter. Cope, Spaich, and the Sustainability Oriented Students Club (SOS Club), planted their first crop of choice: garlic. The following spring the garden was expanded by way of adding more beds for a variety of vegetables and flowers.
From the start, the garden was created as a community space where anyone interested in getting involved could come and learn about gardening. Participants from the SOS Club, Early Childhood Learning, the Intercultural Center, and international students have all played an integral part in regards to student involvement with the garden.
According to Spaich, “It really is an open project for anybody who’s teaching in the various disciplines on campus, but also but also for anybody who’s enrolled in classes here to consider how they might be able to spend some time out here — not just for the purpose of classes, but also the experience of being in a garden.”
Since its inception the garden’s yields have been fruitful; this last fall, the garden had produced upwards of 40 delicata squashes, 20 sugar pumpkins, and a large number of tomatoes, among other plants.
When asked about what happens to the produce after it’s harvested, Spaich stated, “The intent of the production is to, yes, try to provide some food to the food pantry here on campus, but also for people that come in, whether it’s students or other people that are part of the campus community, to be able to grow and share that food with each other. Maybe part of what they grow they take home with them, maybe part they donate to the food pantry.”
During May on Thursdays from 12-2 p.m., the garden will be open for participants to drop in. The garden is nested next to WCC’s Auxiliary Services Building, near the soccer field. Anybody interested in learning more about the garden or participating can also email James Spaich <email@example.com> or Brian Cope <firstname.lastname@example.org> for more information.
“The more students the better,” said Spaich. “This is really a campus garden with the intention of teaching students about the process of growing food.” Adding, “I think that people are starting to recognize that this is a campus garden, and that they have the capacity to come out here and do their own thing really.”