Lifestyles

Story published: 05-14-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Town resident awarded for campus garden project

By Jeanne Cope
H&T Columnist/ Master Gardener

Once in a while we have a wonderful unexpected surprise that creates a landmark in pride for a community.

There are hundreds of volunteers in the Tri-Cities, among them some of the faculty, staff and student body at Northeast State Community College.

As the spring term ends, students depart the campus of this forward thinking college for new careers, jobs and further education at nearby universities or other campuses across this nation.

Many take with them the life skill of growing and consuming healthy food for healthy bodies. It is an honor to recognize these volunteers.

Members of the Greens Club, and students in physical education classes taught by Jonesborough resident Reece Barringer joined in working in an outdoor classroom of raised gardening beds.

The on-campus, outdoor classroom, a brainchild of Barringer, provided the setting for learning how to build raised beds, sow seeds, tend young plants, harvest and consume the bounty provided by the garden.

Students, while studying nutrition and working in the raised beds, learned the skill of raising produce that is economical, easy to grow, tend and harvest while taking home the bounty they helped produce.

The harvest provided fresh vegetables for family tables as well as seed to take home to start personal gardens.

Faculty and staff joined in supporting the outdoor classroom and raised beds by providing funding, labor and assistance to the Northeast Tennessee Master Gardeners Association in constructing and filling the raised beds.

Today, faculty and staff work side by side with students, increasing interaction to form deeper relationships on campus.

As the project gained momentum, the campus Greens Club became involved.

Anyone who works in the garden earns produce to take home, giving individual students a sense of pride and accomplishment.

As part of the campus Wellness Fair, Greens Club members distributed seeds, soil, and peat pots for anyone on campus to take home. The response was huge.

This spring marks a firm beginning of a term of gardening with the raised bed project named “Gardens to Degrees” at Northeast State Community College.

Teaching students how inexpensive it can be to eat healthily and combating obesity on campus were the primary goals of this project.

Barringer stresses the importance of good nutrition in her classes.

As the cost of fresh vegetables skyrocketed, fast food became the inexpensive choice, especially for college students.

Barringer decided to use raised beds as a place to teach students to eat low-cost, nutritious and delicious food.

Most students have never gardened, and their experience at Northeast State has led them to start gardens at home.

This year Barringer and Jim Henrichs, the Greens Club advisor, were honored for their work with the gardens.

Both received Volunteer of the Year Awards at the Honors Convocation. The Greens Club also received an award for their members’ volunteer service.

I offer a resounding round of applause for a job well done by all involved in the Raised Bed Project, Gardens to Degrees, at Northeast State. Happy Gardening Everyone!

Jeanne Cope is a freelance garden writer and UT Lifetime Master Gardener. Visit her at jeannecope.com or by email at jeanne@jeannecope.com.