Just because Marquette is in the heart of the city doesn’t mean students can’t get a little dirt under their fingernails.
What was once an empty field near O’Donnell Hall has been transformed into an urban garden, where students and staff dig in to tend lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, squash, peppers, herbs and more in a dozen colorfully painted raised beds.
The space is shared by the Campus Kitchen at Marquette, Students for an Environmentally Active Campus and the Department of Physician Assistant Studies. Part of the fresh-grown bounty goes straight onto the plates of the hungry and homeless through CKMU, which recovers leftover food from campus cafeterias and delivers it to those in need. Last year, the garden produced more than 50 pounds of produce for CKMU, and the project organizers hope for an even bigger haul this season.
“It’s nice to be able to take carrots that still have dirt on them to the kids and show them that real food comes from soil,” says CKMU coordinator Amanda Parrell Kaczmarek, Arts ’04, Grad ’09. “To take something that was just in the ground an hour before and serve it was so fun.”
About 30 people helped build the raised beds during Hunger Clean-up last spring. In the fall, service learning students from the ROTC program added a compost bin, five waist-high table gardens and benches.
Dr. Josh Knox, a clinical assistant professor of physician assistant studies who pushed for the garden, encourages his students to participate as part of his Introduction to Primary Medicine course, which covers public health and contemporary nutrition issues. “The garden is used as an exemplar for growing your own healthy food and what that looks like,” Knox explains.
SEAC members grow produce for their personal use, though they and the PA students donate their extras to CKMU.
“It’s something we always wanted to see on campus,” says SEAC member Aurora Prehn, one of the project’s early leaders and a senior in the Helen Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences. “It’s a great teaching tool. We’re really hoping that it continues and that people see value in it.”
SEAC members Aurora Prehn and Katherine Rakowski are busy expanding Marquette’s urban agriculture efforts.
The next proposed project: an edible arboretum with 12 to 15 native fruit and nut trees, which the seniors in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences hope will help Marquette earn recognition through the Tree Campus USA program. The Office of the University Architect has agreed to study a potential site between Lalumiere Language Hall and the Service Building, near Clybourn Street. Now it’s a matter of finding funds and waiting for planting weather. Says Prehn, “We hope for the best, which is planting as many trees as we can.” — NSE