SPEARFISH — A campus garden is just one of the elements of Black Hills State University's sustainability efforts - and come harvest season its splendor is utilized in the campus dining facility.
Located right next to the campus apartment complex, volunteers made up of students, faculty and members of the community started planting May 22 and today they have about 60 percent of the planting complete. To make sure the garden is properly maintained, volunteers will continue to work in the garden throughout the growing season.
“This is just a continuation of our actions to educate students on sustainable living and choosing a healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. Jane Klug, director of student services at BHSU. “It's also a fun way to bring students and the community together for a common cause … it's a great learning lesson to see a project through from the beginning to the end.”
This is the university's third growing season, and the program is funded in part by a South Dakota State University Extension grant.
The produce, Klug said, is grown organically and ranges from tomatoes, squash and peas to carrots, cucumbers and onions. The garden, which is 70 feet by 100 feet, creates a lot of work and volunteers are always needed.
“If there are members of the community out there who might not have the means of planting their own garden we certainly welcome their participation because we're always in need of volunteers,” said Klug.
Diana Jones, the assistant food service director for A'viands at BHSU, said the food harvested from the
campus garden is used well into the winter months.
“There's just something about a fresh garden tomato … you can definitely taste the difference between one we've grown and the one we've purchased from the store … therefore when the time comes our salad bar is filled with the fruits of our labor — literally” she said. “Offering freshly grown produce has also been very well received by our customers.”
In addition to simply planting seeds and watching them grow, BHSU will offer an educational component this year.
Kyle Williams, a senior at Prescott College in Prescott, Ariz., is in the midst of his internship and will manage the garden as part of his senior project. As part of his internship with BHSU, he will be conducting gardening luncheons once a month to provide instruction on sustainable living.
“People can expect something that has been grown locally to be included in their lunch,” he said. “We'll also provide an update on the garden's volunteers and where they are at with the project and then we'll have a conversation about scheduling a work party at the garden.”
This would also be a time to talk about the needs and the wants for the future of the garden.
Luncheons are $6 per person, which covers lunch. The second garden luncheon of the year is at noon on Monday, June 14 at A'viands.
In addition to working with the university, Williams said he will also be working closely with Hills Horizon, a local organization that encourages the development of sustainable lifestyles through educational activities, conducting community events, and providing community services. In Spearfish, Hills Horizon oversees the Spearfish Community Garden and has organized a farmer's market to be held during the Downtown Friday Nights events that will begin June 8.