Campus Grow offers outlet for advocating healthy people, planet

Charlotte Bodak/Assistant Photo Editor Lyon senior Chelsey Jackson grasps a handful of weeds while cleaning out garden plots inside the Campus Grow Community Garden Thursday afternoon. "I started getting involved with Campus Grow this year and this summer volunteered in New York doing roof-top farming," said Jackson. "For me gardening is a great way to get out of the classroom, de-stress, and get outside."

Jackie Maggioncalda can usually be found walking on the freshly mulched paths going past sunflowers and tomato plants full of fruit.

The Waterford senior is the co-coordinator for Campus Grow, a registered student organization that values healthy people and a healthy planet.

“Developing community collaboration, promoting physical health through proper diet and exercise, advocating hunger and poverty solutions, (and) offering food education and research opportunities for students,” reads the group's mission statement.

Campus Grow maintains two gardens. One is The Children’s Garden, which the Child Development Learning Laboratory children on campus help with, and the other is known as the ‘Big’ garden and is located west of Theunissen Stadium. Anyone can rent a 10’ by 10’ plot in the larger garden for $10 a year.

The group has donated food to several places in Mount Pleasant, and they encourage plot renters to grow a row for the hungry, which is donated to those in need within the community, she said.

"(We) have another (spiral designed section) where we try to donate all the produce," Maggioncalda said.

She said Campus Grow plans to collaborate with other RSOs.

"We need to (get) more groups involved, and one of our big goals is to (get) volunteer groups and other RSOs (to) help weed the garden," Maggioncalda said.

Canton senior Jack Distel planned to join Campus Grow since he was a freshman.

“I like their outlook on sustainability on (CMU)’s campus and their (urging) to have more students and everyone around the community to participate with us,” he said.

Campus Grow works with Kaya Coffee House, 1029 S. University Ave., using their coffee grounds as a nitrogen-rich compost.

Kaya barista Libby Motzenbecker said there is a mutually beneficial arrangement.

"We keep a lot of the coffee grounds back (behind the counter) for composting, and I know (it's good because my parents have always gardened) a lot, and (coffee makes) really good compost," the Troy senior said.

Motzenbecker said she has seen a growth in student interest in sustainability since her freshman year.

"A lot of the people here are involved with Campus Grow, (and we) work with them a lot," she said.

While the coffee grounds may be excellent compost, Maggioncalda said that CMU's food scrap-based compost gathered from the dining halls is a different story.

"(CMU) got all this money to build a compost, but they haven't really been taking good care of it," she said. "And it's been smelling and they don't use the proper techniques to make that accurate compost. We can't use it."

Maggioncalda said while she is really glad CMU is doing a compost and that it is a step in the right direction, she wouldn't recommend using it. She said that some gardeners have used it, but that Campus Grow is not affiliated with CMU's composting.


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