Members of the Roanoke College Garden Club work in their new garden space on campus.

By Emily Sorenson '16

New plans for campus garden take root

The Roanoke College Garden Club is thriving. The garden's new location yielded an excellent harvest this past summer, and the club, with 10 members, is well on its way to creating a wonderful space for the College community.

Formerly, Roanoke had a garden on Elizabeth Campus, but in the summer of 2014 the garden was bulldozed during the relocation of materials from Bowman Hall demolition. Since then, Roanoke College junior MacKay Pierce, who interned with Roanoke Community Garden Association and is president of the College's garden club, asked Roanoke for a plot of land on the main campus, at the corner of Hawthorne and High streets.

The new garden, 70 feet-by-100 feet, has 13 raised beds. Rather than filling up the garden with more planting space, the next project will incorporate a path that circles the garden.

After the path is finished, the club intends to install benches, with room to seat at least 20 people, and compost bins. These projects, slated for this winter, would ideally provide a perfect spot for faculty to bring their classes on beautiful days or for the campus community to relax outdoors when warmer weather returns. 

One of the most noticeable ways the club is working towards fostering community ownership is by donating portions of the garden's first harvest, including swiss chard and acorn squash, to the Commons and to the Salem Food Pantry. 

Pierce is hopeful that the club can continue offering fresh produce to the Roanoke College community in that capacity. The next harvest is scheduled for this summer.

Pierce's passion and belief in this project are reflected in the way he talks about the garden, drawing a diagram on a napkin and excitedly describing plans that wouldn't reach fruition for another 20 or 30 years. Should the club maintain momentum and successfully foster a sense of community ownership, the garden could one day feature a butterfly garden, a vineyard from which communion wine for the campus chapel could be produced, and a fruit forest, he said.

The club's goal for the new space is simple - create a garden over which the campus feels ownership.

You do not need to be a gardener to enjoy the RC garden or to become involved with the RC Garden Club. Interested students can attend a club meeting on Sundays at 2 p.m. in Lucas Hall.