Monday, June 17th, 2024
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The Gardens of Millersville

Millersville’s campus is home to several gardening initiatives in efforts to promote sustainability and intentional “green” space.

June is the perfect month to stroll through Millersville University’s campus and enjoy the beautiful flowers, as well as the campus gardens.

Millersville’s campus is home to several gardening initiatives in efforts to promote sustainability and intentional “green” space. These spaces allow students hands-on experience in gardening and opportunities to give back to the Millersville community.

‘Ville-age Garden
The ‘Ville-age Garden was introduced on campus in the fall of 2013 and has been upheld every year since. Consisting of 12 raised garden beds, the space is used to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs.

In previous years, some of the food that has been grown at the ‘Ville-age Garden has been donated to the HUB in efforts to combat food insecurity on campus. “This is my 25th year at Millersville and I would say that not one semester has gone by that a student hasn’t talked to me about their lack of ability to get food,” says Dr. Nadine Garner, associate professor of psychology and ‘Ville-age Garden manager. “I think for people to be able to grow some of their own food supplementally is huge.” Food insecurity continues to be an ongoing issue on college campuses, affecting student health and graduation rates. Herbs and greens from the garden have also been donated to dining services in the past.

The ’Ville-age Garden also provides students with a therapeutic release, as gardening can be beneficial to mental health. “I think from a mental health standpoint, gardening gets people in a more mindful state that is just so helpful to the human brain,” says Garner.

The garden beds are designed to be accessible to all. “When I was designing the space, I wanted it to be ADA compliant,” says Garner. “If someone needs wheelchair access, or has a different type of restriction, they can still use the garden.”

The beds are available to be claimed on an annual basis at no cost. Participants must sign an agreement stating that they’re willing to maintain the space over the summer and clean up in the fall. Interested students and student organizations can contact Garner at Nadine.garner@millersville.edu.

Community Garden Plots
Millersville provides another gardening opportunity by offering plots of land for personal use to students, faculty, staff and community members. There are no requirements regarding what should be planted in these spaces. People are invited to plant both flower gardens and food.

The community garden plots have been a long-running initiative on Millersville’s campus. “It’s great to build the relationships between the town, borough and the University while using otherwise unused land for a common good,” says Kaitlynn Hamaty, Millersville’s Sustainability Manager. “Having these garden plots gives people an opportunity to engage with the environment and with agriculture, something we’ve been removed from.”

Having areas for gardening allows for intentional “green” spaces which promote environmental sustainability. “I think we’ve become used to having just grasses and green,” says Hamaty. “Gardens create dimension.”

Located near the water tower at the corner of West Cottage Ave and North Duke St, plots are 14 feet by 45 feet in size and are available for $25 on a first-come, first-serve basis. There are 15 plots. To purchase a plot, visit the Palmer Building. For more information, contact Hamaty at kaitlynn.hamaty@millersville.edu.

Photo of the trees after they were all planted .
The orchard is growing near the water tower on campus.

The Orchard
Further efforts to combat food insecurity, as well as to beautify Millersville’s campus, are made possible by an orchard of fruit trees. Located near the water tower, these trees were planted in 2022 as part of a long-term plan among PASSHE faculty and the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation to plant orchards on PASSHE campuses. Millersville’s orchard follows that of California University of Pennsylvania in 2016 and Shippensburg University in 2019.

The trees are set to produce fruit three to five years after being planted and are well on their way to doing so. “As sad as it is not to get fruit from the trees immediately, I remove most of the fruit now so that the plant can invest more into healthy root and shoot growth,” says Dr. Christopher Stieha, associate professor of biology and faculty member in charge of the orchard. This process allows for the trees to grow bigger, faster.

Students have had a hand in caring for the trees and will continue to be able to in the future. “The orchard encompasses many of Millersville University’s EPPIIC values,” says Stieha. Once the trees can bear fruit and maintain health, the produce will further benefit students. “Fruit will be distributed to the community through organizations such as the Campus Cupboard,” says Stieha. “Although it is starting slowly, once it gets going, the orchard will give back to our community for decades in fresh fruit and hands-on experience.”

 

 

 

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