Five EMU campus gardens, pioneered years ago by a professor hoping to give students a practical exercise in sustainability, now provide fresh, organic produce.
Students and community members organized by the Sustainable Food Initiative volunteer and maintain the gardens throughout the year. Students also manage the university compost pile.
Professors use the garden and compost areas in EMU’s Peace with Creation curriculum and for studying sustainable agriculture, crop chemistry and worldwide sustainability and development.
The EMU dining hall…
- saves about 350,000 gallons of hot water per year by going tray-less
- recycles all paper and recyclables
- offers “greenware" containers instead of Styrofoam
- uses recycled paper products from a local distributor
A member of the Creation Care Council food procurement task force, he knew an organic garden was the most affordable and efficient way to supply the campus with healthy, locally grown food.
Students turned the idea into reality, working year-round as volunteers to develop the yield and expand the space.
Within the first year, the garden harvest stocked the cafeteria’s salad bar during Summer Peacebuilding Institute.
The dining hall now hosts a "local harvest meal" each fall. Large portions of the menu come from the campus garden.
Student workers and volunteers transport 300-500 pounds of dining hall scraps a day across campus via bicycle and maintain the compost piles, which are located behind the Suter Science Center and monitored by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The student-led initiative has provided rich compost soil for campus gardens since 2008.