GUEST COLUMN: Campus Grows is back for students, staff, faculty and community members

CMU student Grace Buchholz, one of the first new gardeners, tends to her plot. Courtesy photo from Central Sustainability.

By Jessica Reinhart, a coordinator for Central Sustainability. 

After a 5-year hiatus following a massive flood and lack of reliable water to the CMU garden just west of Lot 70, the student organization Campus Grows is back this semester with revamped plots and all new officers.

Originally founded before 2019, Campus Grows is a gardening Registered Student Organization (RSO) searching for new members to keep up plots on campus and help plan upcoming events. 

The group in question came back as a result of multiple student requests to Central Sustainability (CS) — the student-led office of sustainability at CMU — for a place to grow their own food. Through the spring of 2023, CS took on the project of revitalizing the garden for planting in time for newly recruited Campus Grows members to use it over the summer. 

Recently, the office partnered with Campus Grows to prepare the garden again for the 2024 growing season.

Having a campus garden allows people to get involved with their community and experience the benefits of gardening, including accessible physical exercise, vitamin D, access to a healthier diet and reduced stress.

Furthermore, gardeners involved can further their own food independence: the ability to control over what food is available for one to eat, where it comes from and how it is grown. 

For Central Sustainability, campus gardening also brings CMU closer to the goal of institutionalizing sustainability. 

CS defines sustainability as “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future,” with an emphasis on the five pillars of human, environmental, cultural, financial and social needs. 

The garden meets immediate human needs by providing students and community members with affordable, fresh food while fulfilling the environmental need for less carbon emissions and more plant diversity. Gardeners working together to support themselves and each other can fulfill the social need for a sense of community and belonging.

This growing season, RSO dues are $10 for any students, staff, faculty and community members looking to grow their own plants through the summer. RSOs, student offices and other groups can pay dues for a single plot available for all members as well. For those not associated with CMU, there is a community section of the garden that is open to anyone able to care for it.

Once members are assigned a 10-foot by 10-foot plot, they can access the garden and its communal tools at any time. Gardeners have free reign over what they choose to plant there; however, Campus Grows does not allow the use of any fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or insecticides.

The RSO is also looking for volunteers to cultivate a separate, community garden this summer, where the fresh fruits and vegetables will go back to students in need through the CMU Student Food Pantry

According to Campus Grows themselves, this community garden is a good opportunity for people to get involved with a community project and support local students.

To join Campus Grows or learn more about how to reserve plots and upcoming events, contact Campus Grows President Jesse White at or Central Sustainability at